Friday, June 17, 2022


Ahed's Knee (2021) - Lapid Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 10.08.09 AM Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 10.07.05 AM Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 10.04.25 AM Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 10.01.06 AM Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 9.37.21 AM Screen Shot 2022-06-17 at 9.45.15 AM Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid's previous film, Synonyms examined national identity abroad in the background of the country's overly nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in the eyes of a young man. It was a stinging rebuke of über militarism that he grew up with and rejected. Lapid told me that in order to get a funding from the Ministry of Culture, he had to pitch it like it's a patriotic film about PTSD. And just like Synonyms, Ahed's Knee is a blunt film that doesn't shy away from criticizing the ministry's propagandistic tendencies, but it goes further and makes it the subject and confronts it head on. The title refers to the 2017 incident which went viral on the web where Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian girl who is shown slapping Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the expansion of Israeli settlement in her hometown of Nabi Salih in the West Bank. A high ranking Israeli government official had said that the soldiers should've shot her knee cap off to shut her up.

Ahed's Knee concerns an aging filmmaker Y (Avshalom Pollak) casting for a project about Tamimi in Tel Aviv. He flies to a small desert town to show his previous film, arranged by a deputy director of the local library, Yahalom (Nur Fibak). She is young, well educated, ambitious liberal who seems to understand controversial artists like Y. But she is still an employee of the ministry which censors anything that is slightly critical of its government. There is a questionaire that Y has to fill out to get paid, Yahalom informs Y.

Lapid, again, draws it from his own experience. Ahed's Knee is just as autobiographical as Synonyms. Unsmiling, cynical Y who wants to expose the "ugliest, racist government" and its apatheid state is obviously drawn from himself. Y is also is a master storyteller. He breathlessly tells his experience as a young soldier stationed in Lebanon during the Israeli Occupation in the 80s to Yahalom in the desert against the setting sun, exposing lies their superiors tell to motivate young impressionable soldiers. With flashy visuals and constantly moving handheld cameras, Ahed's Knee has the same manic energy as Synonyms.

It culminates to Y making Yahalom admitting that there is strong censorship within the art community in Israel, and deep down she knows it is wrong. Ahed's Knee directly confronts the well-intentioned liberals and criticises for their sheepishness and passivity. It's an angry film and shows its director's resourcefulness in saying what he has to say in the strongest terms (in the guise of making a fiction) while getting away from the grips of the censors while making a film within the country.

Unflinching and direct in its message with kinetic visuals and breathless pacing, Ahed's Knee is another strong film from a talented filmmaker with strong point of view.

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