From Tel Aviv (2009, Israel)

As a member of the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched the following movie as part of this volunteer effort.

From Tel Aviv” is one-woman movie about searching for identity and understanding of a country and city. Naruna Kaplan de Macedo moved to Israel following her Israeli boyfriend and started to shoot a movie in her acculturation process. She has an open mind, an inquiring spirit and a focused camera as she learns to live and explore her new homeland. She doesn’t shy away the rabid fans of various soccer teams, the ecstasy of young Zionist celebrating their country. Instead of narrating through these images, which were the most memorable in the movie for me, she chose the visuals to speak for themselves and adds her own thoughts only after we, the viewers, were immersed too long into these emotionally charged scenes.

The bulk of the narration revolves around her reflections and reactions to what she sees. The constant self-analysis is the theme/message of the movie, so it is at least as much about her as about Tel Aviv. I personally found her thinking schematic and formulaic. but I learned never to argue with other people’s experiences. It is always real to them, even if I see the patterns that shows how their interpretation lacks individuality.

The last bit of narration in the movie sums up her conclusions

“War doesn’t hide here. We live with it, within it and it can never be set aside. And through the fear I decide I need to get ready. To get ready for war. Not the declared conflict, which so worried me when I was in Europe. One must prepare for the other war. The day-to-day war. The permanent war. I am searching. The end of the world is moving forward. I will not run away. I will fight.”

And as you can see in her (French language) blog she is still searching and fighting.

The description at the distributor’s site reads:

“I am Jewish because my mother’s mother was Jewish.
I am Jewish because, as my grandfather once told me, “Kaplan means Jewish”. It’s in the name.

I did not know Israel, did not understand Israel: it was confusing and terrifying. Israel meant war, the conflict, images of disaster.

Then one day, in Paris, I meet Nadav. He is Israeli. We fall in love and I understand that I have to know Israel if I am ever going to understand him.

I go to his home, to Tel-Aviv. As I walk through the streets of the city I wonder if I can ever make it my own, my home. In order to protect myself I turn to the familiar, to what I know: the camera. I start filming from Tel-Aviv, searching for identity – the city’s and my own.”


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