Review: ‘Z32’

Vet docu-essayist Avi Mograbi permits his personal ideology, interests and, per usual, onscreen seriocomic musings to overpower "Z32," an idiosyncratic take on soldiers' traumatic memories of horrors both seen and perpetrated.

While Israeli docus such as “Waltz With Bashir” and “To See if I’m Smiling” have poignantly and creatively reflected on soldiers’ traumatic memories of horrors both seen and perpetrated, “Z32,” an idiosyncratic take on this topic from vet docu-essayist Avi Mograbi, permits his personal ideology, interests and, per usual, onscreen seriocomic musings to overpower the subject. Self-described “musical documentary tragedy” seems unlikely to inspire the fest and pubcaster demand generated by his previous “Avenge but One of My Two Eyes.”

Pic centers on the testimony of a twentysomething former serviceman burdened with guilt over his participation in a revenge operation in which two Palestinian policemen were murdered. Ashamed and afraid of retaliation, he refuses to let Mograbi expose his face or identity. Playing with ways to conceal his subject’s identity while retaining some facial expressiveness, Mograbi experiments with a variety of disconcerting special effects. Even more off-putting, he expresses his feelings about the filmmaking process and the soldier’s crime with music and song. Low-budget tech package is typical of helmer’s style. Title refers to the archive file where Mograbi discovered the story.

Z32

Israel-France

Production

An Avi Mograbi Prods. (Israel)/Les Films d'Ici (France) production, in association with Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains, with the participation of Centre National de la Cinematographie, Channel 8 - Noga Communication, Cinema Project - Rabinovich Foundation. (International sales: Doc&Film, Paris.) Produced by Avi Mograbi, Serge Lalou. Directed, written, edited by Avi Mograbi.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Philippe Bellaiche; music, Noam Enbar. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Aug. 29, 2008. Hebrew, Arabic, English dialogue. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Avi Mograbi.
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