”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 2

Years ago, when in Israel as a tutor for the documentary CoPro event organised by Orna Yarmut, I visited the Jerusalem Cinematheque. I was there with Herz Frank, whose favourite cinema of his home town it was. Herz was proud that 35mm prints of his films were in the prestigious collection. We met the charismatic founder and leader of the Cinematheque Lia van Leer, who died 90 years old this year, always praised as a true supporter of the art of film. She talked warmly about Herz Frank and his films.

Her name has come up in connection with the controversy around the film of Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, ”Beyond the Fear”, that has been selected for the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival, July 9-19. According to i24News (link below) the Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev has threatened to withdraw funding for the festival if the film is screened at the festival, making film critic Gidi Orsher write on his FB page: “Had Lia van Leer still been with us, she’d tell Regev where to go…” and many have suggested that filmmakers with films at the festival withdraw their films.

The festival has taken the film out of the festival programme to make it be screened the day before, July 8, according to the website of the festival it is still in the documentary competition! So it seems that it will be screened even if the Minister “calls on the public to stay away from watching the film even when it’s screened outside of the festival…” And, yes, Shimon Peres, has called upon a stop of the screening! Both Peres and Minister Regev have not seen the film, you understand by their comments that the film should be glorifying Yigal Amir, the man who killed Rabin. In all existing reviews of the film seen at international festival and on this site it is stressed that the film is a complex interpretation of a love relationship between mother (Larisa, photo), father and son.

The controversy about the film has been covered internationally by several media, see links below, like Variety: “…In response to her remarks, several hundred artists and filmmakers held an emergency meeting to discuss the threat of censorship and signed a petition that declared, “We hope with all our hearts that Israel will not deteriorate into a country where artists who express their views are blacklisted.”

Much more explicit in tone are opinions by columnists in the newspaper Haaretz like Carolina Landsmann, who has this headline for her article: “Censoring of documentary on Rabin’s murderer shows entire nation lost its marbles”, not to mention an article by Gideon Levy (Headline: Fascism is Bubbling in Israel, and that’s good News… The right-wing is attacking because it is afraid. And it is afraid because it is unsure if it’s right…).

Here is a small quote from his interesting analysis: “How is it that an obscure play put on by an obscure theater in an obscure language, which few people have seen or will see, has raised a storm that refuses to abate? Or that one word in the speech of an aging theater director became a national scandal? Or a documentary that nobody has seen, set to be screened at a film festival, also became a scandal? How is it that artists – most of whom have no impact whatsoever – were the target of such frenzied attacks? Behind all this is the feeling of inferiority complexes and, mainly, insecurities about the rightness of their path. The purpose of turning each and every incident into a scandal is to divert attention from the real problems and incite the masses. Under the surface, however, are explanations from the realm of psychology.”

Also writer Amos Oz has contributed – headline “Why are Israelis so afraid of a culture War – stating that the film that many have opinions about without having seen it could be one that is trying to go deep behind the sensations, maybe with “an Shakespearean approach”? Herz Frank would have loved that!

Sooo… in a country where a government seems to favour cultural censorship, it still stands as a fact that “Beyond the Fear” will be shown July 8 in a cinema in Jerusalem and still in the competition of the Jerusalem Film Festival. And according to the Latvian producer Guntis Trekteris, who has fed me with links, thank you,  with the face of the boy blurred. A right decision.

















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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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