Most Israelis pass through the central bus station in south Tel Aviv as fast as they can. It is dirty and decaying, its maze of corridors a haven for drug addicts. The story of an ambitious vision and a flawed realisation is the focus of this award-winning documentary by Czech director Tomáš Elšík.
When architect Ram Karmi began work on the design in 1967, it was to be one of the hallmarks of Tel Aviv: the largest bus station in the world, a brutalist colossus with seven storeys a shopping centre and a theatre. Karmi envisioned that two million people would pass through a year. He also designed it to be vast and confusing to navigate, thinking lost shoppers would spend more. But by the time it opened in 1993 following decades of delays, Tel Aviv’s centre had shifted…
CENTRAL BOOK STATION is a vivid and incisive portrait of a building that has become a cosmopolitan world of its own – a hub for asylum seekers that houses shops selling clothes and knick-knacks, a Yiddish book centre, a Filipino church and food market, refugee health clinics, and a military command centre. As artist and tour guide Yonathan Mishal says “The central bus station is not interested at all in who you are or what you want to do… inside, you get an opportunity to have a safe space to be whoever you want to be.”
This exclusive London screening is followed by a Q&A with director Tomáš Elšík.
This film is part-sutitled.