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This funny and tender story of fathers and sons spans three generations of a Jewish Argentinean family. Perelman senior has made the law his life, representing a variety of petty criminals with ability and flair. Perelman junior (Daniel Hendler), a teacher and also a lawyer, admires his father but wants to make his own way in life. He falls in love with a beautiful student and, winning a lawsuit for her, wins her for his wife as well. Soon he is a father, leading him to re-assess his relationship with his own father. Written and directed by Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace).
 

 Family Law

On Fatherhood
For me, the concept of paternity is a fascinating subject and is similar to cinematic narration. For example, the birth of a child. There is the woman, who has just become a mother and was not moments ago, yet seems to have always been. The baby, just taken from her body, moves directly back to her breast, knowing that it is what’s needed to live. The father, however, observes. He tries to integrate himself into the baby’s life. He holds the baby and tries to feel like a father. He even waits for something to happen. He waits for fatherhood to happen. But nothing happens. We are there, without a purpose. We are as present as the nurse or taxi driver who comes to take the new family home. So we take our children and we begin to speak to them, engage them in a dialogue, rhetoric, to construct a simultaneously universal and unique fiction between us and to create the characters of father and child. Because, even though we may not believe it, we have to convince our children that we are the Legacy, the Father.

Truffaut said something similar, “The most important moment in a man’s life is the day that he discovers that his children mean more to him than his parents.” It’s a somewhat cruel reflection, but it really summarizes my motivations for writing Family Law.

On Women
This film is about three generations of men, three generations of Perelmans and the love between these three men. The fathers, the sons, and the sons of these sons. Family Law is not about the women as much. My interest in this film is not to explore their motivations. There is nothing misogynist or macho about this. It has to do with my idea that as men, there are problems that we face which cannot be shared by our partner. There are situations where our women or partners have a passive role. They listen and comfort us in dilemmas which they cannot necessarily become involved in because they are not part of our processes of identity. In our search for identity we go through processes that are not part of conjugal relationships because of the differences between the sexes. The birth of our children is part of that relationship, but the decay of our parents is not.

On Origin and Fiction
My reflections are, in fact, more autobiographical than the story or characters. What I feel about paternity and the inversion of roles is autobiographical, having been a father twice in the last three years. With respect to the characters being lawyers, I come from a family where everyone is a lawyer and I was a law student working alongside my father in his study, so evidently there are some elements of my life in the story. But I transformed it sufficiently to be able to manipulate the story without modesty…. I read once, in some publication, how autobiographical my movies are and I asked myself, “In which of my films am I lying?,” because evidently I could not have lived all those experiences.

On Family Law
In my previous film, Lost Embrace, I started to reflect on the nature of parenthood. But perhaps because of some personal shyness or awkwardness, I based the father-son relationship on a man contemplating his absent father and his conflict with him. This time I have brought father and son together. The moment when a man re-evaluates his past and himself through his father is a moment I find fascinating in life. It is the moment of the great parable when our parents start their natural decay and we acknowledge the idea of being an adult.

When we as children grow older and start to experience the responsibilities that our parents did, we often discover that our parents are different people than we thought they were—although they were always the same people, simply disguised as “adults.”

I find rich story material in the transition adults undergo when they become parents themselves. Our parents are passing away and are trying to tell us they are not who we thought they were. Our children are born and we don’t know who they are yet. They want us to tell them and we have neither the answer nor the language.

I really do find it odd that the ordinary and transparent world of our (or my) everyday life hides this fabulous mystery. Luckily, cinema can unveil even the invisible.

Despite the above, I swear the film is indeed a comedy.