Switzerland, 112 min
The beginning of the second part of Samir’s trilogy on his origins focuses on his father – an Iraqi Communist who told stories again and again about his Jewish comrades in Iraq. Thus Samir seeks out four older Communists. They are not men his father knew but they talk to him extensively about their lives, shedding light on an interesting aspect of the complex situation in the Middle East. As young men, all four were forced into exile for their political beliefs. They were welcomed in Israel in order to increase the number of Jews but were treated there as second-class citizens. Even today these intellectuals encounter difficulties: for example, prize-winning author Samir Naqash cannot publish in Israel because he writes in Arabic and cannot publish in the Arabic world because he is a Jew.
Again and again, the edges begin to blur around the images of the portraits’ subjects. Cinematic impressions from their surroundings join them in the picture or their statements are amended with written words. An additional and amusing level of reflection is offered by a variety of film excerpts of Arabic and Jewish stereotypes with Samir’s commentaries as an illustration of the way the ‘zeitgeist’ continually changes.
Jenny Billeter (Translation BMP Translations)