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The authors

Nina Bittcher studied Cultural Science, Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Bremen. The film is part of her M.A.-Thesis. In her apprenticeship as a Video and Audio Assistant at Magic Video Postproduction in Hamburg she learnt the basics of professional film work. Since then she realized numerous projects. As assistant director and producer at diverse theater and film projects, among others in Austria and Switzerland, she deepened her proficiency.

Jean-Philipp Baeck studied Sociology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Bremen and in 2007 Asian Studies at the Victoria University in Melbourne. Besides his studies he organized seminars i.e. on films about National Socialism and realized other film- and media projects. After several trips, also to Southeast Asia, he went to Phnom Penh for a research project in 2006. Within the team of authors kittkritik he published the book “Deutschlandwunder. Wunsch und Wahn in der postnazistischen Kultur” (Mainz 2007, Ventil Verlag)

A documentary about military service in Israel

The documentary "Uniform, Shell, Kokon - Military service in Israel" deals with the meaning of military service through biographical interviews. Especially since 9/11, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict arouse the public (media) interest. Particularly from a German point of view the conflict is of special interest, as the founding of the State of Israel was a political consequence of the murder of the European Jews. As a result, the media discourse in Germany ends in polarised views, disregarding the living conditions of the people concerned. With the film, the authors want to take a glance at the everyday and biographical outcome of Israel's military defence for young people.

Although a member of the western community of states, life in Israel strongly differs compared to other occidental countries: the ongoing crisis situation since the foundation of the state affects many fields and different levels - e.g. the two or three years of compulsory military service for all Israeli citizen. Meaning precisely: "Drafted are men in the age between 18 and 29 years, as well as unmarried women between 18 and 26 years. Basic military service for men lasts 3 years, for women nearly 2 years. [...] Until the age of 55, men have to fulfill 30 to 45 days of reserve service, depending on their rank. For women, this obligation applies until the age of 50, but they are rarely drafted." [1] While in most western countries civil and military sphere are experienced as different, Israel draws an image of a military interfused private life. [2] Already at the age of 16, young Israelis have to decide which military unit they want to apply for -  a decision that strongly influences their later career opportunities. Israeli teenagers are forced to think about their further life earlier than in other western countries - at least for the educated stratum the later career is not necessarily determined before the age of 23, many take the time between 18 and 23 years as a period of experience, trial of their own skills, jobbing etc. While many young adults in western countries try and learn a life without external authorities after their graduation from school, Israelis as young adults are bound to a discipline-oriented governmental institution for two or three years and become armed protagonists of the political conflict. Thus, they are directly confronted with situations in which people are injured or even die. The time in the military impacts the process of growing-up in many ways. The presence of military affects every cities' street scene, armed soldiers sit in cafés, school excursions have armed guards. An impressive and maybe daunting Image for external observers - for Israelis a part of  their life's reality.

Which meaning and impact this precarious situation of the Israeli State has for its population has taken a back seat in the "facts and figures"- oriented presentation of the German media - that is why the authors of the film found it important to see the consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a different angle, besides a news coverage going after objectivity and information. By its biographical perspective the documentary highlights a barely noticed aspect. Which personal meaning has the military service for young people in Israel?

Hence the choice of the title: The Uniform like the cocoon is to be understood as an external indication of the process of a metamorphosis that does not allow any conclusion about the following result. Like the shell of an animal, it thereby protects what is inside and at the same time grants an imposing appearance.


[1]      Balke, Ralf: Israel , S. 143, C.H. Beck, München 2000. [translated to English by J.Baeck ] 

[2]      A comparison to Germany might be clarifying:  In Germany, the group of the population affected by conscription is much smaller, military service lasts only one third of that time and it is possible to do civil service instead. Furthermore, there is no need to take part in combat missions during compulsory military service.