Israeli director Nadav Lapid slams censorship with “Ahed’s Knee”

He’s on edge. Y, the hero of Nadav Lapid’s new film, is an Israeli director with a volcanic temperament, casting a biopic dedicated to Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian activist sentenced in 2017 to eight months in prison for slapping an IDF soldier . A committed artist, he is invited to give a conference in a remote village, in the desert region of Arabah. Any resemblance to characters who actually existed is not accidental. And the filmmaker readily admits it.

“In 2018, an official of the Ministry of Culture, sympathetic, intelligent, curious and devoted to her work, asked me to come and speak after a session of The teacher, says Nadav Lapid. “At the end of the conversation, she mentions the existence of a form that I must sign and which details the subject of my intervention, before admitting to me later that she is not very proud of it.”

When the young are sicker than the old, this is where it gets dangerous– Nadav Lapid

In the film, Y perceives this request as a form of insidious censorship, a symptom of the authoritarian drift of Israel that Nadav Lapid denounces since his first film, The policeman, in 2011. “Like my character, I went to the desert and signed the paper”, admits the filmmaker. “And like him I found myself in this position where by dint of fighting, of resisting in the face of a sick society, you start to go bad yourself.”

If it was shot before Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, from the religious right, came to power, Ahed’s Knee is a film that could not be more current. “I’d rather let the film speak for me”, answers Nadav Lapid when asked about the political evolution of the Hebrew state. “In a moment of rage and verbal madness, Y is talking about a young generation that is even more cowardly, more vulgar than the generation that came before it. Let’s say that when the young are sicker than the old, it’s where it gets dangerous. “

After turning there Synonyms, his previous film awarded the Golden Bear in Berlin, Nadav Lapid has recently moved to Paris. The condition sine qua non to keep your creative freedom? “I always find it problematic when we raise the flag of political exile,” he tempers. “No one pushed me to the door of my country. Only I was exhausted by this ambiguity, this weird dance that I was doing with Israel.”

France, a land of welcome for demanding filmmakers? “Here, you still attach importance to the cinema, it is incomparable”, insists this forty-something who was once a literary critic. “But if I could give you a little advice, from the mouth of a foreigner, it is what this reality is very fragile and that everything can change very very quickly. To preserve this freedom, do not hesitate to build barricades in front of the halls! “

On Form, Ahed’s Knee was arguably one of the most stimulating films of the last Cannes Film Festival where Spike Lee presented him with the Jury Prize. The constantly moving camera embraces the inner torments of its hero, interpreted by choreographer Avashalom Pollak. Just like the music he listens to, striding through the desert on the Be My Baby by Vanessa Paradis.

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“I love those times when you feel like the world is dancing to the music playing in your ears. My film can be interpreted in different ways, but in its own way, it’s also a musical.”, mouse Nadav Lapid. “Right now, I’m listening to Eminem, I love this verbal flow that goes to the most sincere, the most raw. It inspires me.” Strongly the continuation.

>> Ahed’s Knee by Nadav Lapid. With Avshalom Pollar, Nur Fibak, Yoram Honig. 1h49. In theaters

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