Home playdates website archives
       
             
     
             
       

Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi, Late Marriage), a fierce agent for the elite Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, is assigned to track down aging Nazi war criminal Alfred Himmelman, who might still be alive. By posing as a tour guide, Eyal befriends Himmelman's freethinking grandchildren in Tel Aviv, later following them to Germany for a family gathering. What begins as a deceptive mission dissolves into a journey through conflicting ideologies and histories, changing Eyal's view of the world forever. Directed by Eytan Fox (Yossi and Jagger). Winner of three Israeli Film Academy Awards.
 

 Walk On Water

Growing up in Israel, I was taught about the Holocaust from the first grade. Each year, around Shoah Day, we would return to this topic, learning about it through movies, songs and literature. On the actual day, my classmates and I would take part in the annual commemoration ceremony. It would always take place in the big auditorium where a huge banner hung above the stage reading “NEVER AGAIN.”

As a boy sitting in that auditorium I understood that the man I was expected to become was strong and tough, competent and self-assured, stoic and controlled. I knew that this man would one day be expected to defend his people and his country. The friends that sat by me at those Holocaust ceremonies did become tough, capable soldiers, many became war heroes and I admired them. But as time went by I began to understand that I wasn’t comfortable with this type of man—the man I was supposed to be.

I came to realize that the strength demanded of me came at an extremely high cost. I saw that so many men around me were emotionally inept. They never expressed love or fear, even when tears were inevitable… the real Israeli man never cried.

As my generation came of age, some of us began to feel that things around us were changing. We started to see that our wars were no longer about survival but about conquering our neighbors. The victim we believed we were had become a victimizer. For my friends and me it felt bad, but for other Israeli men it seemed necessary. Here we were signing peace agreements, but these men were terrified to admit that things were changing because if they were, the man they had worked so hard to become would be obsolete.

What would free the Israeli man from the old paradigm and the paralyzing expectations of the male he was supposed to be?

I thought of traveling back with this man, of taking him on a journey that would disarm him. To make him understand that the world is a different place, that the “NEVER AGAIN” sign can be folded up and laid in a drawer. To help him realize that the changes were good and he could change with them. I wanted him to lay down his weapon and turn his energies to creating art and technology, to building communities and having a family. I wanted to create that journey in a film.

I remembered a very meaningful experience I had as a teenager when I traveled with an Israeli folk-dancing troupe to perform in Germany. We danced our “horas” in front of crowds in Munich, Bonn and Stuttgart, and stayed with the families of German kids our age in Karlsruhe. Every one of us expected to encounter the stern Germans we’d learned about in school—tall, humorless blonde men and women. Instead we met wonderful young people who were almost unbelievably good. They were politically progressive, socially aware and environmentally conscious—more than that they were sweet. For reasons I couldn’t fully understand then, most of the boys in our group could not realize that the Germans wanted to be our friends. They held back and were waiting for “the big fight” to happen—it never did. I had this strange feeling that a role reversal had taken place—that we Israelis had become the “bad guys” and the Germans were now the “good guys.”

As a young man, I went back to Germany and reconnected with some of the people I met on that first trip. After spending time with them, I realized that the good/bad dichotomy was not accurate. Something about these “good guys” was missing—they were too good, it didn’t seem real. Where was their anger, hostility and frustration? I felt that their goodness was as much a compensation for the past as our toughness, and almost as debilitating.

What if I created a story where an Israeli man of my generation interacts with a young German? What if I put them in a situation where they would have to investigate each other, where they would have no choice but to confront one another? What if the Israeli realized that his primal “enemy” does not exist any longer, that the enemy is also tormented by the past and is now holding out his hand in love? Maybe together each will experience emotions they haven’t allowed themselves to feel, maybe they’ll lose control, maybe they’ll fall in love and be saved.