New Delhi, Nov 29
There could not have been a better candidate than the Israeli director and screenwriter, Nadav Lapid, for the honour of being made chairman of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) jury.
Lapid has won top awards at the Berlin and Locarno film festivals, and the French honour Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. He is also no stranger to IFFI. His 2014 film 'The Kindergarten Teacher' was screened at the Festival and Sarit Larry, its lead star, was awarded Best Actor (Female).
Coincidentally, Season 4 of the popular Netflix action drama series, 'Fauda', was premiered at the just-concluded 53rd IFFI and one its leading stars, Lior Raz, and its writer, producer and creator, Avi Isaacharoff, walked the red carpet with Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur.
What the IFFI organisers did not bargain for, though, was that Lapid is not known to pull back his punches on issues that are politically controversial.
Talking about his 2019 film 'Synonymes', which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and then went on to win the Golden Bear, Lapid had said to the Toronto-based NOW magazine that "the Israeli collective soul is a sick soul".
He went on to say: "Something in the deepest essence of the Israeli existence is false -- is rotten. It's not just Benjamin Netanyahu -- it's not special to Israel."
"But, at the same time, I think this Israeli sickness or nature is characterised by young Israeli men, muscular, smiling, who don't raise any questions and don't have any doubts. They are extremely proud of being Israeli. They have a totally dichotomous vision of existence: Us versus all the others."
'Synonymes', incidentally, is about a young Israeli man who absconds to Paris to escape his nationality.
Lapid's conflicted view of Israel came out forcefully in his film 'Ahed's Knee', which shared the Jury Prize at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and was invited last year to be screened at the Soul of Asia section of the 52nd IFFI.
The son of writer Haim Lapid and film editor Era Lapid, 47-year-old Nadav Lapid, according to Wikipedia, studied Philosophy at Tel Aviv University and then moved to Paris after his mandatory military service in the Israel Defence Forces. He returned to Israel to pursue a degree at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem.
His debut feature film 'Policeman' won the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2011.
Unafraid to speak up for the Palestinians now confined to the West Bank, Lapid is one of 250 Israeli filmmakers who signed an open letter to protest against the launch of the Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund.
The filmmakers are of the view that the fund had just one goal: Inviting Israeli filmmakers to "actively participate in whitewashing the Occupation in exchange for financial support and prizes". The Shomron Film Fund's official mandate is to "distribute grants to Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank ("Judea and Samaria") and to productions by Israeli citizens filmed in the West Bank".
New Delhi, Nov 29