In the preceding post I linked to a TV reportage of the rapists preying on Syrian women in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. As it happens, I saw this Israeli film a couple of nights ago, which also has rape as its theme, specifically the psychological trauma suffered by rape victims and decades after the fact. The film is based on actual events, of a rapist—nicknamed “the polite rapist”—who terrorized the Tel Aviv area in 1977-78, raping 16 women before he was arrested. The story is of two victims of the rapist whose paths cross 20 years later (30 years later in fact, for the chronology of the film to make sense). One of the women, Lily (Ronit Elkabetz), is an anti-occupation political activist in her spare time, the other, Nira (Evgenia Dodina), a TV camerawoman who captures Lily in action defending olive-harvesting Palestinians from fanatical army-backed settlers—who are, figuratively speaking, rapists themselves—and recognizes her from 20 (or 30) years earlier. She makes contact, they forge a relationship (difficult at first), and relive the event and its traumatic sequels.
It’s not a bad film and certainly holds one’s attention, though what gave it an additional dimension for me was the discussion-debate in the cinema after it was over—which I had not known was scheduled—, led by the directrice-générale of the CNIDFF, a para-public feminist association that promotes gender equality and women’s issues in general, who called the film one of the most important and accurate that has been made on the psychological trauma suffered by rape victims. She said that she had worked with up to a thousand victims of rape in her career and could attest that the manner in which the Lily and Nira characters dealt with the experience decades after the fact—psychologically, in terms of their relationships with men (problematic in both cases), how they discussed it (or didn’t discuss), etc—was entirely accurate, that she had counseled such women countless times. On this level I learned something from the film—and which also depicted situations I am more familiar with (e.g. of how the police, judicial authorities, and even family members suggest that maybe the women bore some responsibility for what happened to them, if they didn’t outright provoke it). The CNIDFF D-G also revealed that the film’s director, Michal Aviad, had been herself a victim of the “polite rapist,” thus explaining her choice of subject and sticking closely to the historical record of the event. Here’s one review of the film. French reviews, mostly good, are here.
While I’m at it, I should mention an Israeli film I saw early in the winter, ‘Yossi’ by Eytan Fox, which has homosexuality as the theme (as did Fox’s excellent 2007 film The Bubble). The protag, Yossi, is a taciturn, pudgy, mid 30s medical doctor in Tel Aviv and gay, though has not revealed it to his colleagues or most anyone else, and has difficulty assuming his gayness even to himself. In the course of the film one learns that he had had a lover, Jagger, ten years earlier during his military service, but who was killed in Lebanon (dying in Yossi’s arms), and from which Yossi never psychologically recovered. He ends up at the home of Jagger’s parents—whom he hadn’t met—and reveals the love he had had for their son (they didn’t take the revelation of Jagger’s sexuality too well), after which he goes on a road trip to Eilat for some R&R, picks up four soldiers on weekend leave on the way, one of whom is gay—and more exuberantly so than Yossi—, and with whom, once in Eilat, things happen. One learns that homosexuality is more accepted in the IDF nowadays than it was a decade ago. It’s a small film, not essential, though may be seen, particularly if one has an interest in the gay theme. It would also help, I suppose, to see Fox’s 2002 ‘Yossi and Jagger’, which is a prequel to this one—and which I didn’t know about (and have yet to see). A review of ‘Yossi’ is here. French reviews are here.