Ahed’s Knee **
by Nadav Lapid
Franco-German-Israeli film, 1 h 49
Nadav Lapid is not done with Israel. We had left his character of Synonyms, Golden Bear in Berlin in 2019, exiled in Paris and refusing to pronounce a single word of Hebrew to end the weight of his country’s identity. We find it in Ahed’s knee, back home as an angry filmmaker grappling with a culture ministry determined to restrict his freedom of expression.
In this autobiographical film, radical in its form and very political, jury prize at the last Cannes Film Festival, Y., the director’s cinematographic double, is a prominent creator, invited to the screening of one of his old films in a village in the Arava desert.
Yahalom, the young woman who welcomes him, deputy director of libraries at the Ministry of Culture, warns him that he must sign a document committing him to choose his subject for debate with the public from a list pre-established by the authorities. She is not very proud of it, she says, but it is the condition to bring the culture in this remote care of Israel. At first furious, the director, devastated by the recent death of his mother, undertakes to seduce the young woman to make her admit the strange methods of the government on a recording before transmitting it to the press.
A film commensurate with the director’s complex relations with his country
Crossed with flashes, like the beautiful opening scene following a young woman on a motorcycle in the rain, this film made in a “Sense of urgency” is commensurate with Nadav Lapid’s complex relations with his country. Tense from start to finish, sometimes unpleasant, like his character who gradually turns from victim to executioner, and obsessive when he rehashes the militarist spiral in which Israel has locked itself.
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Ahed’s knee of the title is that of Ahed Tamimi, this Palestinian teenager who hit the headlines in 2018 by slapping an Israeli soldier, becoming a heroine for some, a terrorist for others. An Israeli MP suggested shooting her in the knee to make her disabled. Y. has undertaken to make it the subject of his next film, the ultimate snub to his homeland.