The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

Golden Lion Winner Slams Toronto Boycotters

Posted in Policy by Noah Harlan on September 13, 2009

Venice Golden Lion winning director Samuel Maoz took a well earned swipe at Jane Fonda and the Toronto boycotters today.

From Ha’aretz:

“The point of a film like mine is to open a dialogue, to get people talking to each other about important issues,” Samuel Maoz told the British paper The Observer, in comments published Sunday.

“This is something you can’t do if films are boycotted. It makes no sense to boycott art. Maybe I wouldn’t have won if Jane Fonda was on the jury, but she wasn’t.”

“”But making this film has got me my life back and that is more precious than any award. Without fully knowing it, I have been deeply traumatized since 1982, as has a whole generation of Israelis, people who are now running the country. Making ‘Lebanon’ and finally confronting what happened in that war, has given me my true feelings back and I can cry real tears once more.”

The weekly entertainment magazine, Variety, has described the film as the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli movies; the New York Times called it “an astonishing piece of cinema.”

The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director.”

Unfortunately, if you don’t see the films you are protesting then you make then you make yourself a fool. Discourse and debate are the cornerstones of intellectual honesty, when you call for an end to that you are making a terrible decision.


One Response

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  1. Judo Nimh said, on September 14, 2009 at 12:20 am

    The trailer for the new Israeli anti-war film “Lebanon” can be viewed here:

    “Lebanon” currently has no U.S. release date although it will play during this year’s New York Film Festival. Israel will almost certainly make this film their submission to the next Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category and a win would be the sweeest of blowback against the TIFF boycott by fonda et al.

    There is a fantastic review of “Lebanon” in the Hollywood Reporter By Deborah Young

    Lebanon — Film Review, The Hollywood Reporter
    By Deborah Young, September 08, 2009 01:22 ET

    A wrenching condemnation of war seen from inside an Israeli tank.
    Venice Film Festival, Competition

    VENICE — The emotional traumas of young Israeli soldiers drafted into the war with Lebanon in the 1980s are recounted through the eyes of a tank crew in this wrenching concentration of raw emotion directed by Samuel Maoz.

    Compared to Ari Folman’s sophisticated animation-memory “Waltz With Bashir,” another autobiographical film that dealt with the same war, “Lebanon” takes a very different, experiential approach to describe the sheer horror of warfare, rather than its political background. At times it seems the film, which goes heavy on close-ups and dialogue to make the most of a low budget, could have been set during World War II. That said, viewers with a strong interest in Israel and the Middle East are likely to make up the lion’s share of the international audience for this disturbing, high-voltage festival film.

    The action is set entirely within the claustrophobic confines of an armored tank; the only views of the outside world are through the cross-hairs of the gun barrel. Four hot, grime-streaked, twentysomething soldiers — Shmuel the gunner, Assi the commander, Herzl the loader and Yigal the driver — are manning the tank amid deafening noise and a sickening rocking and bumping motion when the vehicle is in motion. No one obeys orders and one by one they go into panic as they realize they have driven into a lethal trap.

    Their commanding officer (Zohar Strauss) leads them and a ground force on a mission that at first seems like a piece of cake. All they have to do is to “clean up” a Lebanese town that has already been bombed by the Israeli Air Force and move on to a meeting point. It turns into a nightmare for these soft, panic-stricken soldiers, who can’t bring themselves to pull the trigger on combatants and end up killing civilians instead.

    This must qualify as one of the most anti-heroic war movies ever made; not a single character can stomach battle or shows the slightest courage towards his comrades, making mockery of a plaque that extols: “Man is steel. A tank is only iron.” It is hard to care about these feckless characters, who miss their mothers back at home and seem unable to grasp the basics of what’s going on around them. When a Syrian POW is lowered into the tank, they can’t fathom his terror on being threatened by a ferocious Phalangist (a Christian Arab) out for his blood.

    It the darkness of the tank, the scared boys’ wide-eyed, grimy faces are hard to tell apart. What does come through is a visceral horror described without letup or dramatic relief. The long sequence in which they participate in shelling a building where a Christian family is being held hostage by terrorists is all the more powerful for being seen only through the cross-hairs of a gun; actress Reymonde Amsellem is unforgettable as the young mother whose family is killed in front of her eyes.

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