IFFI 2022: “I don’t believe in a perfect cut,” says Israeli-French filmmaker Nadav Lapid

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Panji(Goa): The jury is still out on which film will take home the Golden Peacock in 2022 – but, one thing is certain, Nadav Lapid has already won The Peacock’s award for rockstar attitude. The Israeli-French filmmaker has only one regret about agreeing to join the jury at the 53rd International Film Festival of India: “I have been just watching movies since arriving in Goa, so I have not really had the time to relax, network, and enjoy the festival. I have been tasting Goa in bits and pieces.” The chair of the jury says that “at the same time, this is a huge privilege and I only said yes to India because I felt I was missing out on experiencing an amazing culture.” Lapid says he has heard a lot about Goa from his comrades during the compulsory military service that all Israeli men and women go through, and not everything was particularly inspirational.

The 47-year-old offered The Peacock an insight into the working relationships and professional dynamic among his fellow jury members who hail from India, France, Spain, and The United States. “There is a healthy dynamic, and as the days pass, we will get to know each other better on a personal level. However, funnily, when we sit down for deliberations at the end of this jury exercise to decide the winner, we will realise our differences. Personal rapport can be contrastingly different from professional synergy,” says Lapid. “There are some good films in the screening room and I am personally looking for a film that moves me differently.

I am not looking for perfect filmmaking because I don’t believe in a perfect cut. In my world, I like to keep it real. I need to feel confused, shocked, amazed by something I haven’t seen before,” says the Golden Bear and Cannes Jury Prize award-winning filmmaker. There is nothing pretentious about this Paris-based filmmaker, who will have spent over 50 hours watching movies by the time IFFI 2022 completes, trying to capture the movie that moves him the most. “I feel privileged to have the freedom to be true and genuine to myself as a filmmaker and make strange, yet stirring movies,” says Lapid, advising filmmakers, “not to live in anxiety about what their body of work will look like 10 years from now.” As an industry trailblazer, and acclaimed film director, Lapid clearly prioritizes experience and lived situations over indepth research. “I know of filmmakers who spend years procrastinating on the right research, instead of putting their faith in experiences and testimonies available to them. In the meanwhile, ideas get stale and the passion is lost. There is no guarantee for your film’s success even after spending decades in the profession, therefore, it is best to dive in wholeheartedly, and commit to the story that moves you.” Lapid studied philosophy and literature, before enrolling at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem.

“Film school was very competitive, and it gave you an opportunity to process situations taking place within yourself and around yourself, and shape your ideas of the world. Jerusalem was obviously a conflict zone, but there is also conflict within us, and as young filmmakers in a conflict zone, we had to embrace it all,” says the Tel-Aviv born filmmaker, who has won over 20 international awards. Not too impressed with artists getting involved in politics, Lapid believes that “a filmmaker’s primary medium to communicate a message should be cinema.”

He expressed his surprise at the Indian national anthem being played at the inaugural ceremony of IFFI 2022, which was followed by “incomprehensible chants”. He says, “I completely admire the fierce patriotism, but that was an underwhelming experience for an artiste at an international event.” When prompted to opine on the growing governmental camaraderie between India and Israel, he says, “It is not appropriate for a filmmaker to be showcased as an ambassador of the whole country, as he does not represent the sentiment of millions of people of his country of birth or residence. I have no responsibility to represent Israel. If I wanted to represent Israel, I would have gotten into diplomacy. I am an artiste – and I travel the world, keeping an open mind to experiencing different cultures as an artiste, and that’s how I would like it to be.

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