Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Israeli Movie

December 7, 2010 Agencies
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“Lebanon”, a film made about an Israeli tank crew in the 1982 Lebanon war, has won the Screen International Jury Grand Prize for its writer/director Samuel Maoz at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The APSA awards were held on the Gold Coast last week and the panel of judges headed by Lord David Puttnam judges entries from more than seventy countries.

Maoz, whose film is issentially autobiographical also won the award for the Best Screenplay.

The synopsis:

The First Lebanon War – June, 1982. A lone tank is dispatched to search a hostile town that has already been bombarded by the Israel Air Force. What seems to be a simple mission gets gradually out of control and turns into a death trap, a shivering nightmare.

Shmuel the gunner,Assi the commander,Herzl the loader and Yigal the driver are the tank’s crew. Four boys aged 20 plus who are operating a killing machine. They are not fighters, eager for battle, conquest or self-sacrifice. Entangled in the absurd and unfair war nets they are terrified to death by its horrors. They’re brave kids losing their innocence in the most brutal way and being mentally destroyed. A sharp basic instinct will push them to the limits as they struggle hard to survive in a situation they cannot contain anymore, desperately trying not to lose their humanity amid the chaos of war.

Lebanon is a personal film, a film about four boys who had never been involved in anything violent before and found themselves killing people, A film about survival against a palpable threat of death, a situation in which the conflict between their basic instincts and human conscious claims its victims.

The Director/Writer

On June 6, 1982, at 6:15 AM, I killed a man for the first time in my life. I did not do so by choice, nor was I ordered to do so. I reacted in an instinctive act of self defense, an act with no emotional or intellectual motivation, only the basic survival instinct that takes no human factors into account, an instinct that forces itself on a person facing a tangible threat of death. On June 6, 1982, I was 20 years old.

“On June 6, 1982, at 6:15 AM, I killed a man…”

Twenty-five years after that miserable morning that opened the Lebanon War, I wrote the script for the film Lebanon. I had had some previous experience with the content, but whenever I began writing, the smell of charred human flesh returned to my nostrils and I could not continue. I knew that the smell would evoke indistinct scenes that I had buried deep within my mind. After years of passive trauma and violent anger attacks, I learned to identify the ominous moment and escape it in time. Better to live in denial than not to live at all.

The year 2006 was particularly difficult. Five years had passed since my last project and I felt that I was burned out. Here and there, I produced a short commercial or promo film, but other than that, nothing. Once again, I suffered financial pressure, passivity and a maddening lack of responsibility. Once, someone asked me: “What about post battle trauma? Do you experience nightmares when you remember the war?” I wish it were as simple as that, I thought to myself.

“When a person feels he has nothing to lose, he takes chances.”

When a person feels he has nothing to lose, he takes chances. That’s how I felt in early 2007 when I started to write the script for Lebanon. I had hit rock bottom and decided to go all the way. This time, I would run away from the smell, that came first, as usual, but would let it take me to the blurry scenes. I would put them in focus, dive right in and cope with it all! Suddenly, I felt an uplift, a weird sense of euphoria. I’m not lost yet! I’ve still got fighting spirit. I went to bed early, got up in the morning and started to write. I was careful. I didn’t tackle the topic directly but rather wrote around it: An introduction, feelers … I waited for the smell but it did not arrive. I found myself exerting gradual efforts to restore it to my memory, but it was not there any more. The scenes were gone as well. All that remained was a dim progression of difficult, horrendous and particularly distant events. After about a week, I realized that I had become emotionally detached. The boy of my memory was no longer myself. I felt pain for him, but it was a dull pain, the pain of a scriptwriter attached to a character he writes about. It did not matter to me whether I had been cured or was simply breaking a world record for denial. I was flooded with adrenalin and felt like a quivering missile on the launching pad a moment before liftoff. I had spit out the first draft within three weeks.

The movie won “The Golden Lion” at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

Lebanon opened in New Zealand in November 18

It opens in Australia on December 2

View the trailer of “Lebanon”

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