UHF42 is the frequency used by Wattan TV for its broadcasts. Founded in 1996 as the first independent TV station in the West Bank, Wattan TV is on the air around the clock, even though the frequency has been repeatedly blocked and attacks by both Palestinian and Israeli authorities have taken place. Alongside movies, the station mainly broadcasts news and produces reports on education, politics, culture, and sports, as well as an own crime series.
The eponymous work by Mike Crane is a six-part series, with each section featuring one work day. The mixture of documentary shots of the studios and office of the news station in Ramallah and scripted dialogues of those working there creates an unusual collage situated between fiction and reality. All protagonists play themselves. Along with casting a view behind the scenes showing how news are produced and the relationships between the staff members of Wattan TV, the focus of the film in general is on the problem of the credit system and the high debt of the population. During the week documented by UHF42, a report on this issue is recorded and produced. The journalists and the rest of the team also increasingly start talking about the topic, addressing both personal debts and spiritual questions of faith.
The plot of UHF42 is repeatedly interrupted by colorful advertising clips that with glossy ideal images arouse the desire for luxury goods or praise banks and credit cards that enable their consumption. Separated from the actual plot, the news produced each day by the Wattan TV team and included in full length in Crane’s series grants insights into the reality of life outside the studio, where the tensions of the Middle East conflict are omnipresent and exacerbate daily life. Pictures of wounded people and soldiers in the cities form the reality of the population and are also a recurrent topic in the six episodes of UHF42.
In his docufiction, Crane uses a scripted plot and acted dialogues to visualize real problems, such as the high debt of Ramallah’s population and the risks of life in an embattled area. The problems that Wattan TV, as an independent and educating TV station, has with the ruling political authorities in its homeland are exemplary nowadays. (Anne Fährm)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.