France | Israel, 2012
Opening September 17, 2015
Directed by: Lorraine Lévy
Writing credits: Nathalie Saugeon, Lorraine Lévy, Noam Fitoussi (orig. idea)
Principle actors: Emmanuelle Devos, Pascal Elbé, Jules Sitruk, Mehdi Dehbi, Aareen Omari, Khalifa Natour, Mahmood Shalabi
If Joseph had not been conscripted for the Israeli Army, it would probably never have been discovered that his “real“ mother is Leila - an Arab woman living in occupied Westbank - and not the well-educated French speaking Orith living in a suburb of Tel Aviv. Eighteen years ago both women gave birth in a Haifa hospital during a bombing incident where the two babies had mistakenly been switched during the hectic evacuation. This surely is dramatic enough for each family but adding the very complicated situation between Arabs and Israelis they are put under additional strain with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Each side shows open contempt for the “enemy“.
Joseph, educated in the Jewish tradition, asks: “Am I still a Jew“? Even the Rabbi has no satisfactory answer. His sister wants to know: “Are you still my brother“? The other teenager, Yacine, has grown up in the Arab community. But his brother Bilal suddenly shows open contempt towards him. The clashing of the two cultures is causing continuous pain, anger and confusion. Only the motherly love of the two women patiently paves the way to a mutual understanding and respect.
As the French director Lorraine Lévy points out, she did not want to make a political film but political reference cannot be avoided when filming in a country divided by a high concrete wall - even higher than the Berlin Wall. With her profound inside knowledge and much empathy she concentrates on showing the two boys’ effort of finding their role between the lines. Joseph only wants to sing and make music. Yacine studies medicine in Paris and wants to open a hospital on his return. These two youth are striving for reconciliation aiming for peace amongst their family - and for their country. Dhafer Youssef’s music, a mix of jazz, soul and oriental melodies, adds an authentic atmosphere to the film. ( )