Seven Chapters in Survival
Year of lab participation:
Following sexual abuse, fifteen-year-old Rafaella is sent to survive a cross-country hike - which ends up transforming her from a common roadside weed, to a rare and blossoming flower.
Rafaela (15) is kicked out of the house by her stepmother Rachelle (40) and her biological father Mike (45), after having told them a secret that could potentially destroy the new life they’re trying to build. She’s sent to “Survival Camp” for the summer holidays, a program designed to set at-risk youth straight and teach them Jewish and Israeli values. Under the instruction of Yaron (20), the “Survival Camp”’s questionable counselor, Rafaela and the rest of the program’s participants hike across Israel: from Eilat in the south to the Hermon in the north. Rafaela is forced to withstand difficult physical and mental survival challenges, all while battling internally with her traumatic past and gnawing doubts: the difference between truth and lies, reality and imagination. During this cross-country journey Rafaela is exposed to the Israeli periphery: geographically, culturally and socially speaking. She acquires her very own set of survival skills, as well as the tools to unpack the unbearable reality she’s been living in. She also forms an unbreakable bond with the other participants- who serve as a temporary replacement family. With the help of her new friends and various characters she meets along the way, Rafaela slowly breaks free of the symbiotic relationship she has with her father, faces the doubts and guilt eating away at her, finds the answers to the questions tormenting her and breaks free.
When I was seven and a half, I lost my mother. Six months later, I was sexually abused. During my teens, I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. My father and his wife didn’t know how to handle my emotional state, and sent me to a Society for Protection of Nature hiking camp. Their hope was that it’ll offer me the healing I needed. I did. In camp I met boys and girls my own age, who like myself were labeled as “at-risk youth”. One a month we’d go on exhausting hikes in different locations across the country. During those hikes we started to bond, and for the first time in my life I had real friends who served as a sort of alternative family to me. This hiking camp group changed my life forever, and is the inspiration for the “Survival Camp” where the film’s main character - Rafaela - is being sent. Rafaela’s emotional journey, her trauma and the main conflict she deals with throughout the plot are based on my own biography. “Seven Chapters in Survival” is a journey to the heart of Israel’s periphery: be it geographically, culturally or socially. The film’s main character and her friends all come from dysfunctional families, and are forced to survive and grow out of nothing. The film showcases the wild beauty of these untamed teenagers, their spirit, their courage and their desire to grow and become strong, independent persons despite the unbearable environment in which they grew up and their terrible personal stories. The geography of the film - all the way from Eilat in the south to Hermon in the north - reflects the main character and her friends, the wild landscapes referencing their spirits. During the main characters’ journey, they meet various characters (people and animals alike) who are usually exempt from public, cultural and cinematic discourse. The film focuses on these “transparent” people and locations, giving them the center stage. In all the films I wrote and directed there was always a female heroine who the plot revolved around. My heroines all reflect the physical and emotional journeys I’ve been on, as they face different struggles specific to the female experience. My inspiration for the film’s directing-style, general atmosphere, tone and art are derived from films such as: “Badlands” (Terrence Mallick), “Happy as Lazzaro” (Alice Rohrwacher), “Whale Rider” (Niki Caro), “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Benh Zeitlin), “Princess Mononoke” (Hayao Miyazaki), “Rosetta” (the Dardenne brothers), “American Honey” (Andrea Arnold) and Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)... Films where the heroines go through a turning of age journey and find salvation and peace by connecting with their wild sides. The film is divided into seven chapters, referencing Jewish mythology where the world is created in seven chapters - including the creation of man. It is a narrative of evolution, of blossoming out of the wilderness, out of the fringes, from nothing. The concept of creating something substantial out of so-called barren land excites me. A lot.
A graduate of the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School, Rosenak wrote and directed the shorts Torch, Wild & Biopsy (Chicago International FIlm Festival, Camerimage, Munich International Student Film Festival, Singapore Children’s FF, DocAviv, NYFF, among others. The films won major prizes at these festivals. She is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry book Come, Lick Me (2020) and writes a weekly column in Haaretz newspaper. Created the web documentary Plague Diary 2020.
Marek Rozenbaum, Producer, Israel
Marek Rozenbaum holds a degree in Social work and Film from the Tel Aviv University. He has directed 2 films and produced over 40 feature films and international co-productions, among them award-winning films that have received worldwide recognition. Mr. Rozenbaum is the recipient of five Ophir Best Film Awards. He served as Chairman of Israel's Film and Television Producers Association and today is a Member of its Board as well as chairing the Israeli Academy of Film and Television for a decade.
Production company profile
Transfax Film Productions was established in 1989 as an independent production company specializing in feature film production and co-production. The company has produced over 40 feature films and international co-productions -many winning international prizes including Keren Yedaya’s Or (Camera D’or)& That Lovely Girl, and A Strange Course of Events by Raphael Nadjari (Quinzaine des Realisateurs) and Our Father by Meni Yaish.
Transfax, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 50 523 8766