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"Jaffa Gate Is Ours!” screamed the headlines in 2005. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Irineos was accused of selling church property to Jewish settlers. He denied all of the accusations. But for the first time in the church’s 2000-year history, its leader was ousted. For 11 long years, Irineos was imprisoned in his chambers. In this first-person account, filmmaker Danae Elon unravels what really happened to the former Patriarch. With unprecedented access to the inner workings of the church, a riveting, mysterious, disturbing, and often humorous story is revealed about an unknown world within the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
A word from Tënk
From his window, Patriarch Irineos I releases a long rope with a small basket at its end and the grocer–one of the few people whom he trusts–fills it with food.
The spiritual guide of Middle Eastern Orthodox Christians is embroiled in a scandal, and while many faithful Palestinians are demonstrating for his removal from office, some resolutely want him dead. He finds himself mysteriously confined to a cramped room. Many people, notably his successor patriarch who defends his innocence, claim that he is there of his own free will, fearing assassination. His successor confirms his house arrest; Danae Elon seeks to understand. Under her investigatory gaze, as serious as it is humorous, she applies relentless interrogation techniques and questions influential men with whom she manages to get a word, such as the former Prime Minister of Israel Ehoud Olmert and former member of the Israeli intelligence service Rafi Eitan.
Her sensitive approach is such that through all of the political machinery and the mask that this controversial patriarchal figure wears, the filmmaker manages to uncover a humanity much easier shut out than it is unearthed. She models this all with nuance, entering into the room where the patriarch is locked up to find herself before a neglected man who is deeply touched by any visit and who is quick to ask her to come back and see him. The documentary was shot over the course of three years and speaks to the former patriarch’s circumstances. In the end, he is finally released.
Tënk's Artistic Director