From an orphanage in communist Romania to an abusive adoptive home in Israel, Lian is forced to run away and survive on the streets as a teenager.
Abortion in communist-era Romania was banned, part of Ceausescu’s brutal and repressive rule over the country. Lian, one of the countless unwanted children abandoned in orphanages under this policy, is adopted at the age of four by an Israeli couple. It quickly becomes obvious that has been brought to an abusive home, and at the age of 14 runs away. Forced to live on the streets, utterly alone in the world, Lian’s struggle to survive sheds light on the cruel reality for homeless children.
Director’s statement The Way Up 2009
Three years ago a friend asked me to film a group of youth at risk at a drama workshop in Tel Aviv. At the workshop, the children spoke of their childhood trauma and what caused them to leave home and end up on the streets.
One girl stood out among the others. She quietly and peacefully spoke about herself and why, at the age of 18, she decided to live on the street. Her name was Lihan and I was captivated. Her turbulent story swept me away. It was incredibly difficult for me to comprehend, and I thought that hiding behind the camera would enable me to identify with it.
I started a subconscious journey, the camera and I becoming one. Along with Lihan, I experienced the solitude of sleeping on the streets of Tel Aviv, looking for work and a home and mainly the existential search for warmth and love. Over the past few years, Tel Aviv has become full of homeless people. They stop you at the junctions, asking for two shekels, and they sleep in your yard. I would move to the other side of the street to avoid them. Suddenly one of them had taken up a large portion of my life, suddenly everyone became a story.
This is my first film. It has swept me up and down, to sad places and to places full of hope, exposing me to similar places inside myself. I have come to understand that the way up travels through the lowest places and never really finishes.