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VENICE 2008 Horizons / Israel-France

Mograbi’s musical documentary breaks the silence

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Mograbi’s musical documentary breaks the silence

Israeli filmmaker Avi Mograbi’s documentary, Z32 [+see also:
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, is a sophisticated and collaborative work, produced by France’s Les Films d'Ici with backing from the CNC. After making Avenge But One of My Eyes (which screened at Cannes in 2005), about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the difficult birth of a democracy, Mograbi got involved in an organisation (called "Breaking the Silence") of young, former Israeli soldiers who collect the testimonies of those who took part in "revenge actions" in the Occupied Territories.

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Z32 is the code name for one of these operations, during which two Palestinian policemen were killed by Israeli soldiers. This action could be described as a war crime.

The 35mm documentary screened at the Venice Film Festival centres on the testimony of one of the participants, a young man in search of redemption from his guilt, flanked in the film by his girlfriend, who has never forgiven him for his actions. Both their faces are hidden by masks – which were digitally created in post-production – and only their darting eyes are visible.

Mograbi is above all interested in describing what the soldier feels and in looking at the source of that feeling of excitement at killing. The filmmaker achieves this by placing himself at the centre of the action, creating a sort of musical documentary.

The testimony of the young former soldier is interspersed with scenes in which the director himself, accompanied by an orchestra, sings Brechtian-inspired songs about all the dilemmas he faces: Does forgiveness mean anything? Can films still be politically-engaged? Is it possible to change the world with a film? The secret hope is yes, it is possible.

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(Translated from Italian)

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