Avi Mograbi (Israel/France, 2008)
Israeli “docu-essayist” Avi Mograbi reveals the deepest longings of a nation in conflict in this genre-breaking and original work. A young Israeli, while serving in the army, participates in a revenge operation following the ambush and murder of six Israeli soldiers. His elite unit is dispatched and two innocent Palestinian policemen are murdered. The film works as a confessional for the young man, who faces the camera to speak to his girlfriend about his guilt. By partially concealing their faces with digitized masks, the anonymous confessor reveals the contradictions between a soldier’s adrenaline-driven experience of real combat and a civilian’s need for forgiveness. The girlfriend, a thoughtful listener, raises the moral issues while assimilating the unbearable thought that her lover is a murderer. Mograbi effectively inserts himself in the narrative like a Greek chorus, singing a libretto of his own self-doubt as an artist and political activist. His ironic commentary underlines his ambivalence toward his subject. His protagonist is so genuinely likeable that you forget what he has done. Mograbi’s ingenious film, a self-described “musical documentary tragedy,” leads us through a maze of national duty, admissions of guilt, desire for forgiveness, and a soldier’s reality that is rarely discussed. The title of the challenging Z32 is taken from the case number assigned the testimony by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli veterans dedicated to collecting testimonies from soldiers who have served in the Israeli Defense Forces.
• Written by Mograbi, Noam Enbar. Photographed by Philippe Bellaïche. (81 mins)