Nadav Lapid’s thought-provoking film “Ahed’s Knee,” which just world premiered at Cannes and won the jury prize, has been acquired by Kino Lorber for North American distribution.
“Ahed’s Knee” will have its North American premiere in the Special Presentations section at Toronto. The film, produced by Judith Lou Levy, nabbed the jury nod at Cannes ex aequo with “Memoria” and marks Lapid’s follow up to his Berlin Golden Bear winning movie “Synonyms” which Kino Lorber also handled. The New York-based distribution banner had previously worked with Lapid on “The Kindergarten Teacher,” which played at Cannes’ Critics’ Week in 2014.
Represented in international markets by Kinology, “Ahed’s Knee” tells the story of Y, a celebrated Israeli filmmaker who arrives in a remote desert village to present one of his films at a local library.
Struggling to cope with the recent news of his mother’s fatal illness, he is pushed into a spiral of rage when the host of the screening, a government employee, asks him to sign a form placing restrictions on what he can say at the film’s Q&A.
Told over the course of one day and shot in just 18 days, the film depicts Y as he battles against the loss of freedom in his country and the fear of losing his mother. It’s a deeply personal film for Lapid who wrote the script in two-and-a-half weeks soon after the death of his own mother, who worked as an editor on many of his works.
The film delivers a sharp critique of the censorship and hypocrisy instigated by the Israeli political leadership. At the same time, as Kino Lorber highlights, “the fact that Lapid’s film was produced, largely funded, and highly acclaimed in Israel highlights the complexities of a national cinema that refuses to be muzzled, born of the divisions of society itself.” The movie reflects the ideological turmoil that Lapid has experienced throughout the years in his homeland, and the backlash he has faced due to his controversial movies.
“Nadav never fails to surprise and even shock. Cinema is a unique tool of consciousness in his inventive hands,” said Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber, who worked closely with Lapid on his two previous films.
“Beyond any of his previous films, ‘Ahed’s Knee’ is a breakthrough work and a cri de coeur that will powerfully engage viewers on a most personal level, while illuminating a universal political dilemma,” added Lorber.
The film drew a long standing ovation upon world premiering at Cannes and garnered mostly positive reviews even if it divided some audiences. Variety’s Jessica Kiang said the film was “astonishing… quite possibly brilliant” and “interrogates a filmmaker’s moral duty in personally and politically fraught times.”
Lapid described “’Ahed’s Knee’ as a philosophical tale rather than a purely political one. “It’s not only about the current crisis of Israeli political life. It is not only about a universal crisis of freedom of speech and liberty of art and thought. In the end, it is a film about the essential state of being an individual living in a society.”
“Can we resist injustice and vulgarity while staying human? Can we fight against monsters without becoming monsters ourselves?” asked Lapid, who also praised Kino Lorber for sharing “a thirst for uniqueness, an innovative spirit, and a hunger for artistic adventures, risks, and danger.”
The acquisition of “Ahed’s Knee” was negotiated by Kino Lorber Senior Vice President Wendy Lidell and Grégoire Melin of Kinology. The movie will be released in North American theaters in early 2022, followed by a VOD roll-out on Kino Now, in addition to all major digital platforms and home video.