It seems increasingly difficult to find a true experimental film these days. What does “experimental” really mean anyhow? It doesn’t have the same connotations that it did when film was a young medium with no clear rules. Often we might expect some art school project that’s completely unwatchable. For 2007’s Strangers it means no set script, no large production and a fluidity that means the film was directly effected by reality and events happening at the time. Filmmakers Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor really rolled the dice on this one.
Strangers picks up in Berlin, Germany during the 2006 World Cup. Solo travelers Eyal (portrayed by Liron Levo) and Rana (portrayed by Lubna Azabal) meet unexpectedly when they accidentally swap bags on the subway. With both traveling alone and Eyal without a room in which to sleep, the two end up spending time together. She’s a bit of a wild child. He’s more even keeled but still confident. It doesn’t take long before sparks fly. But they do so reluctantly: Eyal is Israeli and Rana is a Palestinian living in France. It’s the second part of the film, when Rana is forced to return to Paris where things change. She gives no explanation and tells Eyal never to contact her again. It’s this turning point when the film becomes something completely different than you’d expect.
It’s that second half of the film, inspired by the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, that makes things so much more complex. Strangers becomes about the conflict in the Middle East. It becomes about immigration. It becomes about family. It becomes about so much more than just a couple who meet in the German capital city during the World Cup. Strangers is raw, somewhat unpolished but moving. The risks that the cast and crew take push the film that much further and challenge everyone involved, including the audience.