Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Pourquoi Israël

Israel, Why

Warum Israel

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This film is about the reality of the state of Israel. Twenty years after his first visit, Claude Lanzmann returns to share his amazement at the very fact of its existence. Lanzmann’s tools in Pourquoi Israël are personal observations and simple re-enactments. Whether at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to murdered Jews, or in supermarkets; in Jerusalem or in the desert; swimming in the Mediterranean or enjoying winter sports in Hebron, he explores normality in this "anomalous" country. How does Israel, in the person of Israelis, see itself? What are its political and religious foundations? Whence do its residents come? What drew them to Israel and how do they live here? What keeps them here? Pourquoi Israël is a complex panorama of voices and faces. We hear from city dwellers, settlers, Zionists, soldiers, kibbutzniks, two professors, a banker and a dockworker, Russian immigrants and Mizrahim. Dispensing with a narrative voice-over, Lanzmann gives us direct impressions of the many, sometimes contradictory, facets of Israeli society, providing insight into the very existence of the Jewish state. As the director put it, "the missing question mark in the title is crucial".

Israel / France 1973, 192 min


Claude Lanzmann