Dir/scr: AviMograbi. Is. 2005. 75mins.
Avi Mograbi's well-deserved reputation for systematicallybaiting the official policies of the Israeli government will spread evenfurther with Avenge But One Of My Eyes, his explosively provocativedocumentary essay that played out of competition at Cannes.
As usual, itwill be highly appreciated by all those who share Mograbi's radical viewpointon Israel's occupation of the West Bank, while also enraging Israel'straditional right-wingers, for whom Mograbi is a self-styled, one-man filmindustry.
Unflinching andtaking a determinedly single-minded approach, Avenge But One Of My Eyesis bound to generate fierce controversy wherever it is shown and might evenmake the transition from critical glory to commercial success, which he haspreviously been denied.
Mograbi presentshimself as the doleful observer who can do little more than console andprotest, inviting his audience to watch carefully and reach the inevitableconclusions from what they see.
On the one hand,he visits the Occupied Territories to document the treatment of Arabs at thehands of the Israeli army, depriving them of economic means and, even worse,basic human dignity.
Against this hecontrasts two rituals, dear to the hearts of most Israelis. One, which takesplace on top of the mount Masada, celebrates the Hebrew uprising against theRoman occupation 2,000 years ago, when the besieged Jews committed suiciderather than surrender.
The otherhonours Samson, the Biblical hero who, in an act of ultimate sacrifice, pulleddown the Philistine temple on himself and all those around him.
Mograbi is thebackbone for the film, sitting at his desk (in a shot familiar from hisprevious work), in a marathon conversation which breaks up the variousdocumentary episodes.
He also speaksto an Arab friend resident in the West Bank (to avoid possible recriminationsthe voice of an actor is used), who relays tales of woe that parallel theJewish rebellion against the Romans and the rejection by Palestinians ofIsraeli rule today.
Other implicitlinks suggest that Samson may have been an early suicide bomber in his own way.Nothing is spelled out - but the suggestions are clear, eloquent and profoundlytroubling.
Mograbi, who hasnever claimed to be impartial nor objective, pulls no punches. At one point heopenly incites soldiers to resists orders that are immoral (to his credit, bothhe and later his son, while serving in the Army, did just that and werepunished for their insubordination).
His approachwill have more than one detractor fuming and there is scope for him to probemore deeply. But it is certainly disturbing food for thought.
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