B R I E F   S Y N O P S I S
Broken Wings tells the extraordinarily moving story of the life and loves of the Ullman family. In a middle-class Israeli neighborhood, Dafna (Orli Zilbershatz-Banai) is left hurting and in economic straits after the death of her husband. Her 6-year-old girl suffers from feelings of abandonment, the 11-year-old boy tries to break the world record in the free jump (into an empty swimming pool), and the teenager quits school to hand out flyers on the subway. But Dafna and her eldest daughter do their best to nurture their beleaguered family.
  Personal Politics
   
 

Not long ago I returned from the Toronto International Film Festival. Broken Wings was screened there, and I was invited to the screenings and for interviews with the local press. When I came back home to my family, I called my mother. "Why are you down?" she asked immediately. "I'm not down. It's the jet-lag," I said laconically, trying to avoid a long conversation. "Don't fool me. You are down," she ruled. "Ok, I'm down," I gave up.

"What happened? Didn't they like the film?"

"They loved the film, it's not that. It's the interviews," I answered, knowing I was doomed now because the conversation would expand into the twins' bath time.

"Hold on," she said, "I'm turning off the news."

A moment later she was back, curious to hear more. "What about the interviews?"

"They were all very politically oriented, that's all. They were hardly about the film. Everyone wanted to know why the film didn't deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue."

"But your film is about a family, it's not about politics."

"That's exactly the point. They just can't understand how one can make a non-political film in a time like this in Israel."

She was silent for a moment and then said: "Maybe they are right. Maybe we really shouldn't do anything that doesn't deal with this issue these days."

"I know," I sighed.

"But you wrote the screenplay in 1998, dear. It was a much more optimistic time. We were expecting peace, the Intifada started only two years later. Didn't you tell them that?"

"No."

"Why not?"

I didn't reply.

"Were you feeling guilty?"

"I guess so."

We were both quiet for a minute, and then she got back to her favorite subject. "Did you have a chance to think about what we talked about before your trip?"

"Yes…"

"And…"

"No, mom, we are not getting married."

"But why not? Now that you have babies…"

"Mom, we need to bathe them now. I'll talk to you later, ok?"

Broken Wings debuted in July 2002, at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. It was the end of a four year working process. The film is about a family—in many ways my family—and it deals with the loss of the father under ridiculous circumstances. Although no one of my close family had actually died, I expressed my personal view over my own family and my childhood. During recent years, I had lived with the feeling that until I finished this film, I would not be able to become a father myself. I had no idea that the connection would be so powerful. During the first week of the release, my girlfriend got pregnant. A few weeks later we were told she was carrying twins: a boy and a girl…

When I was in Toronto the babies were already five months old, and I missed them. I was pestering moms of young babies on the street with questions about teeth and stomachaches, and I was bothering myself with the question whether we are allowed to tell personal stories in our country, as the occupation is such an inherent part of our lives. I did not find an answer. We have our personal lives, no question about that. We love, hate, envy and miss our babies, but should we really talk about it?
Just after we bathed the babies, the phone rings. "It's your mother," my girlfriend tells me without even picking it up. "How do you know?" "I recognize her ring…"

I pick up the handset. My mother doesn't waste time on 'hello's.'

"Listen," she says. "I just read an interesting article that might help you. Do you know the Irish poet Seamus Heaney?"

"No," I reply, awaiting the lecture.

"Do you realize that you don't read enough?"

"Yes I do."

"How can you not know Seamus Heaney? He is one of the greatest English-writing poets today. He won the Nobel Prize in 1995."

"Mom, I'm sorry, I just don't know him."

"Anyway, they just translated his famous poem series from 1985, Station Island, into Hebrew. There is a very interesting article about it. This poem is a lot about a journey of guilt. Station Island is a place in Ireland, where Catholics go to ask for forgiveness of sins between man and man. They move from station to station while they fast and mortify themselves. In his poem, Heaney meets ghosts of people that had affected him. Almost each one of them accuses him of not being political enough in his writing, and not being committed to dealing with the conflict between the independence-aspiring Catholics and the pro-British Protestants—a struggle that had shadowed the life and death of everyone he meets there. And then he meets James Joyce. Did you know that Joyce fled from Ireland?"

"No I didn't."

"How can you not know things like that? You are an artist, aren't you?"

"Mom, I have read most of his writings. I just didn't know that he fled from Ireland."

"Never mind. The point is, he meets Joyce, and Joyce tells him—I will quote to you:

‘The main thing is to write for the joy of it…Take off from here. And don't be so earnest...You lose more of yourself than you redeem doing the decent thing. Keep at a tangent. When they make the circle wide, it's time to swim.'

You see? He tells Heaney that he will lose himself as a poet if he submits to his guilt. What do you say about this? I mean, I am not comparing the two of you—you just made a fairly nice film and he won a Nobel Prize, but still—it's very interesting, isn't it?"

"So what are you saying, mom? That I need to take off from here and go away?"

"Of course not, dear, you just need to get married!"

   

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