Israeli Cinema Now: New Voices – Nadav Lapid
Nadav Lapid is not only one of Israel’s most brilliant directors, but also its most provocative one. A graduate of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Lapid, who is 45, pursued a degree at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem.
Policeman, a boldly conceived political drama, which earned Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Locarno Film Festival. In this film, Lapid depicts Israel as a highly charged society rife with external and internal tensions. While nominally dealing with the fight against terrorism, it addresses the rising gap between the haves and haves not in a country that’s rapidly become ultra-materialistic and stratified.
The Kindergarten Teacher, which played at the Cannes Film Festival, revolves around a female teacher who gets fanatically obsessed with one gifted child. A tough and disturbing tale, it raises questions about educational methods, like how to cultivate genius. Unfolding as a psychological thriller, it’s the story of a slightly troubled, middle-aged teacher, who upon discovery that one of her pupils is a literary prodigy, takes extreme steps to protect him from what she perceives to be an indifferent and insensitive world. The boy composes beautiful poetry off-hand, in the least expected moments; at times, he too seems possessed. Gradually, her admirable passion turns into a dangerous obsession, bordering on madness. Going beyond the confined classroom, the film vacillates between lamenting the devaluation of poetry (and high culture) and a scorching probe of Israel as a society that has rapidly become ultra-materialistic in its values and pursuits.
Lapid’s most personal and fully realized work to date, an Israeli soldier who has fled his country, in order to become a fully-fledged, completely assimilated Frenchman. Upon arrival in Paris, he gets into an empty apartment and takes a shower. Moments later, his clothes have vanished, and naked and cold he searches for them but to no avail. The next morning, two neighbors, Emile and Caroline (Quentin Dolmaire and Louise Chevilllotte) find him huddled naked and asleep in a fetal position in his tub. The pair right away remark on Yoav’s body, showing particular fascination with his circumcised penis.