My recent postings have mentioned a number of films in the style of personal documentary filmmaking – My Terrorist by Yulie Cohen, Martin by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz and The Green Dumpster Mystery by Tal Yoffeh. Today, I have chosen another film in the personal documentary style – Out for Love – Be Back Soon by Dan Katzir (1997, 55 min.). יצאתי לחפש אהבה – תכף אשוב
The film is an attempt to understand the Israeli psyche, issues of identity and the search for personal fulfillment by young people, against the background of the realities of army service, terrorist attacks, and the assassination of the prime minister. It is particularly relevant during these days, when religious youth are killing Palestinians and rioting against Israeli security personnel in Hebron, refusing to be evacuated from a house in the center of the city, even after a court decision has ordered their evacuation. At this time, we must strengthen our resolve to support the ideals and institutions of a pluralistic and tolerant democratic society; we must continue our struggle against violence in this society; and we must pledge to uphold the spirit of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's last words on that fateful night, Nov. 4, 1995, when he said: "I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace, are prepared to take risks for peace… and oppose violence." The spirit of these words was shattered by Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, a young man who did not want peace but embraced violence.
As part of his film studies, the filmmaker embarks on a unique film project – a personal diary which will help him to better understand himself, his surroundings, and to analyze why he can’t find love. He uses his camera to investigate both the personal and national -- he eventually finds love, but things are not so easy.
This quirky documentary includes home movie footage from his bar mitzvah and a visit to his grandmother who retells the incident in which his grandfather was killed in a terrorist attack at Lod Airport in 1972 by a Japanese terrorist. Katzir documents demonstrations and terrorist attacks. He shows a rightwing demonstration in which the faces of the demonstrators are filled with hate, Rabin is compared to Hitler, and a sign reads: “This peace is killing us.” At the same time, he is documenting developments in his own life.
The Individual vs. the Collective
The lives of these young people are seen against the wider tapestry of national events. Can the individual in Israel live his own life? Or must he always live bouncing off the emotional roller coaster of the events and crises happening around him? During the pioneering period, it was generally accepted that you must sacrifice your own needs and desires for the greater good of the collective. This type of thinking is no longer accepted. Rather, the needs of the individual are considered to be most important today. But, in actuality, things have not changed completely and sacrifices are still required.
Israelis grow up looking forward to serving in the military. Youngsters watch proudly as their older brothers and sisters wear neatly pressed uniforms and come home carrying a rifle. They watch their fathers and uncle go to reserve duty. They accept this as part of their lives. But it isn’t so simple. It requires maturity, dealing with life and death situations, and a willingness to put your life on the line for what you believe.
Grappling with Loss and showing emotions
Katzir realizes that he is hiding behind his camera and that he has difficulty in expressing his feelings. Using the camera, he documents his first kiss with his girlfriend. But he is unable to tell her that he loves her. He seems to be saying that you need to talk about your pain in order to cope and you must struggle with sorrow and loss in order to feel love.
Israelis are particularly good at showing anger and hatred in public. The film shows the anger of bereaved families at an outdoor rally as an example of this. Why is it easier to express anger than love? Why is it easier to express emotions in public rather than in private?
Katzir recalls that when he was a little boy and he cried at the gate to the kindergarten, his mother would say, “Wipe your tears Dan. What will you do when you’re a soldier?” In this way, little boys were taught to be strong, not to cry, and never to expose their own vulnerability. However, this has changed in Israel. During the 1990s, an increased awareness developed that permitted men to express their emotions.
The Assassination of a Prime Minister
The film shows that Rabin was hated by the rightwing and was compared to Hitler because he was making peace with the Palestinians and negotiating to give back territory, all at the same time that there were ongoing incidents of terrorism against Jews in Israel.
Yet, the people of Israel mourned Rabin so strongly! They waited on line all night to pay last respects when his coffin was lying in state by the Knesset in Jerusalem! In addition to respect, this was also an expression of the shock that our society could breed such intolerance and hatred! In fact, the shock and grief unified the country. During this intense period of mourning and public emotion, Katzir realizes that he was still incapable of expressing personal emotion and saying “I love you.” As part of the collective, he could mourn; but as an individual, he was incapable of expressing emotion and was hiding behind his camera.
Taking responsibility as part of the collective in contemporary Israel, we must resolve to defy the forces of evil that support those who throw acid in the faces of soldiers of Israel, those who do not respect the decisions of our courts, and those who condone the assassination of leadership who are prepared to make the sacrifices needed for peace.
Out for Love – Be Back Soon was produced, directed, photographed and written by Dan Katzir. The film is available from his company http://www.newlovefilms.com/ or directly from him at firstname.lastname@example.org .