Who is Nadav Lapid, the IFFI jury who called The Kashmiri files ‘Vulgar’?

29 November, 2022 | Pranay Lad

Jury chair Nadav Lapid expressed his "disturbing and disbelief" at the movie's screening at the renowned festival.

Nadav Lapid, an Israeli screenwriter, and director reopened the discussion on Vivek Agnihotri’s “The Kashmir Files” on Monday by labelling it “vulgar” and “propaganda.” The jury was “disturbed and startled” by the movie, according to Lapid, who spoke at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) closing ceremony, and they found it “unacceptable for an artistic competitive part of such a prominent film festival.”

“I would like to congratulate the festival director and the programming director for the cinematic depth, diversity, and complexity of the programme. It was ferocious. We saw seven films in the debutant competition and fifteen in the festival’s opening-night international competition. In his address, Nadav Lapid stated that 14 of them “had cinematic elements, defaults, and inspired intense conversations.”

We were all surprised and horrified by the fifteenth movie, ‘The Kashmir Files.’ That seemed like a crass, propagandist film that had no place in the aesthetic competition of such a prominent film festival. At this point, I feel completely at ease discussing my sentiments with you here.

Nadav Lapid: Who is he?

Nadav Lapid raised in Israel’s Tel Aviv, is most recognised for his work on Synonymes (2019), The Kindergarten Teacher (2014), and Policeman (2011). The director has served as a jury member for the Golden Leopard award at the Locarno Film Festival in 2015, the International Critics’ Week jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, and the jury for the “Official Competition” at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in 2021.

The 47-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s love-hate connection with his own country was on display in Ahed’s Knee, which he submitted for competition at the Cannes Film Festival the previous year. Lapid also signed an open letter against the establishment of the Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund together with 250 other Israeli filmmakers. According to the filmmakers, the Fund’s sole objective was to get Israeli filmmakers to “actively assist in whitewashing the Occupation in exchange for financial support and rewards.”

The declared mission of the Shomron Film Fund is to “distribute funds to Israeli citizens who produce films in the West Bank and to Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”).”

In one of his interviews, Lapid remarked that “the Israeli collective spirit is a sick soul” when discussing his movie “Synonymes.”

“Something is sick and deceptive at the very core of Israeli life. It is not unique to Israel and it is not just Benjamin Netanyahu. However, I also believe that this Israeli disease or nature is typified by youthful, strong, and beaming Israeli guys who don’t question anything or harbour any misgivings. They take great pride in being Israelis. They have an entirely binary perspective of the world: Us versus everyone else, he claimed in an interview.

Analysis of Nadav Lapid

Nadav Lapid is receiving harsh criticism for his statement made at the film festival, users on social media are slamming him for calling a tragedy “vulgar” and “propaganda.”

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Courtesy: Variety

The filmmaker has a history when it comes to sparking controversies, for instance, he took a swipe at the Israeli Identity and called the Israeli collective a sick soul, also, Ahed’s Knee, which the Israeli filmmaker, submitted for competition at the Cannes Film Festival the year before, showed his love-hate relationship with his own nation. Along with 250 other Israeli filmmakers, Lapid also contributed to an open letter against the creation of the Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund. The Fund, according to the filmmakers, only sought to “actively help in whitewashing the Occupation in exchange for financial assistance and prizes.”

To “distribute funding to Israeli citizens who create films in the West Bank and to Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”),” according to the Shomron Film Fund’s stated goal.

When addressing his film “Synonymes,” Lapid said in one of his interviews that “the Israeli collective spirit is a sick soul.”

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Courtesy: Reuters

Genres of movies he has tapped

The Israeli filmmaker is infamous for his strong opinions and his love-hate connection with his own country, and for the nomination of ‘Ahed’s Knee,’ which was submitted last year at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

The 47-year-old Israeli filmmaker, who is most recognised for Synonymes (2019), is a Narrative-Drama that encompasses the journey of a young Israeli man, aided by his trusty Franco-Israeli dictionary, who travels to Paris to flee his nationality.

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Whereas, The Policeman (2011), talks about a member of an Israeli anti-terrorist unit who clashes with a group of young radicals.

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It stands out to be quite contradictory when as a filmmaker who has tapped into genres where films revolve around strong grounds of revolt and radicalism, which helped him bag a Golden Bear, and the FIPRESCI Award is coming up with such a statement where he stated, “We were all surprised and horrified by the fifteenth movie, ‘The Kashmir Files.’ That seemed like a crass, propagandist film that had no place in the aesthetic competition of such a prominent film festival. At this point, I feel completely at ease discussing my sentiments with you here.”

Backlash

Ever since the 47-year-old Israeli filmmaker, made the statement, some users all over social media have grown indignant. Even the Ambassador of Israel to India took to Twitter in a series of tweets to express his displease over the statement.