Published May 05, 2009The immediately striking thing about Yoav Shamir's latest film, Defamation, is its tone. Narrated by Shamir, said tone is decidedly jovial, almost playful. But the topic is anti-Semitism, so a Jewish narrator speaking as though he is entirely oblivious to the concept is certainly hard to resolve for a Gentile like myself.
It is not as though Shamir takes the topic lightly. He just wants to understand the current meaning of anti-Semitism and how it factors into the minds of Jews and non-Jews alike decades after the Holocaust. While there is no denying that there is still a global undercurrent of hatred toward the Jewish people there has never been any event nearly as abhorrent. Shamir wants to know why resentment still exists and what its face actually looks like today.
He finds that the years of unspoken hatred have almost led the Jews to question whether they too should hate themselves. As the generations of Holocaust survivors die off, new generations of Jews can't connect with that kind of violent hatred. When they do though, often after visiting concentration camps on organized retreats, what they come away with is not sorrow nor sadness but rather a reminder that they are hated and that a similar anger needs to be worn as armour in order to combat this in their lives.
I have often wondered how the Jewish people could have been persecuted so horrifically and still garnered so much hatred so many years later? And I was hoping Defamation would provide the insight I needed. While he isn't able to answer the question directly, Shamir certainly asks enough to keep us going on our quest for understanding. (Cinephil)