The artistic slap of Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid



Anger drives all of the Israeli filmmaker’s films Nadav Lapid. Ahed’s Knee, jury prize at Cannes this year, is no exception. Her starting point was less the fate of Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian activist who set social media on fire for slapping two Israeli soldiers, than the reaction of far-right MP Bezalel Smotrich who had suggested that we shoot him
a bullet in the kneecap to prevent it from starting over.

This anger is Y, himself the director and main character of the Ahed’s knee, who embodies him (excellent Avshalom Pollak) and uses it to prepare a documentary on Ahed Tamimi when he is invited to come and talk about his work in a cultural center in a remote town deep in the desert. There, he is greeted by a young civil servant from the Ministry of Culture (dashing Nur Fibak), who confides in him his admiration and with whom he could forge an intellectual bond (or even more so).

Ahed’s Knee often oscillates between erotic relationship and conflictual relationship, specifies Nadav Lapid in 20 minutes. As if nothing in the film was ever at the right distance, or at the right extent. “Starting with the dull anger that the director feels when the official hands him a form to sign, in order to clearly register the theme of the public meeting in the pre-written boxes and thus avoid any slippage or annoying subject …” This story of form really happened to me, ”says Nadav Lapid, who was shocked, even if he“ didn’t have the courage to go as far ”as his alter ego in the film…

An accumulation of resentments and frustrations

“The form is an important narrative element of the Ahed’s knee, concedes Nadav Lapid. But in the head of the character who has accumulated resentments and frustrations for so many years, this form has in fact been around forever and only once again justifies his anger: he would have been disappointed if the young woman hadn’t had it. not come out. “However, this anger,” we should not necessarily go and look for it on the side of politics, warns the forty-year-old director, rather on the side of the intimate. “

Certainly, there was the decision of the former spokesperson for the Army and Minister of Culture Miri Regev to impose such a form, in addition to its
law Project (finally withdrawn) to remove subsidies to artists “disloyal” vis-à-vis the state. Of course, there were the positions taken
virulent and uninhibited towards the minorities of an extreme right not yet come to power …

But Nadav Lapid is especially annoyed by the “blindness” of his compatriots who persist in dividing the world in two: the friends and the enemies of Israel. He realized this when he came out of three and a half years of military service, a period when “everything had been shaped to make [lui] a hero “. He rebelled, went into exile for a time in France, before choosing the cinema to express this anger that we find in different forms in The policeman (2011), The teacher (2014), Synonyms (Golden Bear in Berlin 2019) and Ahed’s Knee (Jury Prize at Cannes 2021). Tense, tortuous, demanding, this last film is intensely revealing of the unease that is going through Israeli society today.



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