Avi Mograbi Retrospective
One of the most compelling and original filmmakers of our times, Avi Mograbi is one of our special guests for this year’s festival edition. Having made in the past few decades a series of films that are difficult to classify, in which political discourse and a documentary-style approach are often intertwined with unexpected aesthetic formulas that not only give nuance to his chosen themes, but also approach them from surprising angles, Mograbi is certainly an iconoclast.
Those aspects of Israeli society that the filmmaker is interested in are at the same time specific and universal. They are specific because they depict the different ways in which Israelis think of the Palestinian population, the most frequent manifestation of their behaviour being that of aggressiveness and superiority. And they are universal because what underlies all these abusive relationships are mechanisms recognisable in every nation, all crystallised around a set of collective myths and beliefs meant to bestow on them a sense of uniqueness and ascendancy above all others.
Mograbi’s cinematic style is marked by a sarcastic humour, often painful to watch due to the fact that he won’t necessarily offer any pathways towards overcoming the ideological and political deadlock which seems to engulf the Israel of his films. His bitter observations are like those of a buffoon, much too lucid to turn a blind eye to the realities around him, but at the same time too passionate about life, in all its aspects, not to sing its praise. From this seemingly paradoxical temperamental clash hails a spectacular and spectacle-like outlook of society and of the people who make it up, greatly enhanced by Mograbi’s performative flair as protagonist in all his films. His characters’ antics in front of the camera are different from those carried out by other contemporary jokesters by purposefully bordering on the grotesque and the ridiculous, as if to point out that everything that exists and constitutes life is in fact, regardless of the gravity and cruelty of the ensuing events, part of a great and brilliant farce.
For those of you who thought that political documentaries are humourless and lacking in philosophical scope, we prescribe a regimen of Avi Mograbi’s films, as they are bound to cure you of many preconceptions and fuzzy notions about the limits of cinema. Not to mention they will reveal to you one of the most significant filmmakers of our times.