The Field People
Israeli band the Field People, a rock-and-roll three-piece made up of Aviv Lavi, Yogev Hiller and Evyatar Baumer, never got a break back home, so they moved to London to pursue a dream. It was as much about freedom as about music. Their name even pokes a bit of fun at their humble origins: “The Field People,” as in farm boys straight outta the kibbutz. The Field People found, if not fame, then at least a more welcoming reception in London, and a month after they landed, fellow Israeli artist and former classmate and then-film student Noam Stolerman joined the trio to record their progress. Whether they made it big or collapsed under the weight of their hopes and expectations, Stolerman would be there to get it all on tape. Stolerman’s chronicle of his friends’ shot at stardom became The Dreamers’ Field
, screening Sunday, November 4th, and Thursday, November 8th at Indie Memphis Film Festival.
“In Israel, you get the feeling that everyone who doesn’t come from Tel Aviv comes from
a really small town,” Stolerman says. “The main reason I wanted to make this film is that these guys feel like they don’t belong. And everybody gets that feeling sometimes.” Stolerman says he felt simpatico with the Field People. He understood the desire to be bigger than one’s origins, to dream a way out of their current circumstances. But, unlike his musically inclined friends, Stolerman says he lacked the courage to pack it all up and just go. That is, until the Field People gave him a reason to throw caution to the wind. “I’m going to go with these guys and live their dream,” Stolerman says. If they succeeded, well, maybe that meant he could as well. If not, then at least he would be there to capture the experience.
“I know one of them from high school. He’s a really good friend,” Stolerman says of his
longtime friend and Field People drummer Aviv Lavi. Stolerman says he remembers Lavi talking rapturously about his band, almost the way a soon-to-be-betrothed man might talk about the woman of his dreams. Stolerman remembers Lavi saying, “This is it. This is the one. This could be my big break and my ticket out of the kibbutz and out of Israel.” And that sentiment may be the key to understanding both the Field People and The Dreamers’ Field
. Both the band and the film about them are products of a desire for something more, a hope for escape from the everyday.
“This is not a film about music; this is a film about people,” Stolerman says, laughing as
he admits that even he falls into the trap of calling his character-driven documentary a
rockumentary. “They used music as a form of escape. [They’re like] lost souls. Sure, the music brought them together, but if it wasn’t music, it would have been something else.” Stolerman remembers feeling alienated, even while attending the Minshar Film School in Tel Aviv. The longing for something more, perhaps the most universal of feelings, propelled first the Field People and then Stolerman almost 5,000 miles from home. With challenges and uncertainty as their only guarantees, they took the leap. And there were certainly challenges.
“I had an incident with the police in London,” Stolerman says, laughing. The director was
filming without a permit in the London Underground when he was detained by the police. He describes being held for an uncomfortable amount of time, being questioned, and finally being released on the condition that he would never film in the Tube again. The director returned later that day to finish filming the scene. Stolerman shot almost the entire film himself, and did most of the editing. With almost no funding and only himself to rely on, every hour of footage was valuable. “It’s the most indie, guerrilla film making you can imagine,” Stolerman says, describing a ’70s punk ethos, where attitude and heart are valued over technical proficiency. That attitude is equally descriptive of both the film itself and the band. “I saw people say, ‘This is not that good. They’re not great musicians, but they have heart.’”
And speaking of heart: “The heart of the film lies in the second half,” Stolerman says.
“They’re starting to lose their way, and they’re having a really hard time living with it.”
Stolerman, who faced financial and legal challenges as well as the challenges inherent in being separated from his family for so long, remembers asking himself, “Why am I holding this camera? Who’s going to watch this?” But Stolerman’s fears were for naught. In addition to two showings at Indie Memphis 2018, The Dreamers’ Field
was selected for a screening earlier this year at Solo Positivo Film Festival in Šibenik, Croatia. Stolerman, whose short film “Yehoshua” has also been shown in international film festivals, is building his own field of dreams — a little bit at a time and through sheer force of will.
The Dreamers’ Field screens as part of Indie Memphis Film Festival, with its U.S. premiere, with director Noam Stolerman in attendance, at Studio on the Square, Sunday, November 4th, with an encore presentation at Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Thursday, November 8th, at 6:30 p.m.