Who is Nadav Lapid, the Israeli filmmaker who called Kashmir Files ‘vulgar’?
Nadav Lapid was also among a group of 250 Israeli filmmakers that signed an open letter to protest against the launch of the Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund.
Israeli screenwriter and filmmaker Nadav Lapid on Monday renewed the debate over Vivek Agnihotri's ‘The Kashmir Files’ by calling the film “vulgar” and “propaganda”. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Lapid said the jury was "disturbed and shocked" by the film and deemed it “inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival.” (Also Read | On Kashmir Files, Israeli diplomat has ‘different opinion’ than IFFI jury head who called it 'propaganda')
"I would like to thank the head of the festival and the director of the programming for the cinematic richness of the programme, for its diversity, for its complexity. It was intense. We saw seven films in the debutant competition, and 15 films in the international competition, the front window of the festival. 14 out of them had cinematic qualities, defaults and evoked vivid discussions," Nadav Lapid said in his speech.
"All of us were disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable openly sharing these feelings here with you at this stage. In the spirit of this festival, we can surely also accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and life," he added.
'The Kashmir Files' was screened on November 22 as a part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI, conducted jointly by the National Film Development Corporation of India under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Goa government. As the video clip of the speech quickly went viral on social media, many saw Lapid's remark as an embarrassment for the government because The Kashmir Files had received a raving endorsement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March this year.
Lapid received praise as well as harsh criticism on social media for his speech.
Who is Nadav Lapid?
Born in Israel's Tel Aviv, Nadav Lapid is known for Synonymes (2019), The Kindergarten Teacher (2014) and Policeman (2011). The filmmaker has been a member of the Golden Leopard jury at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival, a member of the International Critics' Week jury at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and a member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in 2021.
The 47-year-old Israeli filmmaker is known for his love-hate relationship with his homeland which played out in his competition entry, Ahed’s Knee, at Cannes Film Festival last year. Lapid was also among a group of 250 Israeli filmmakers that signed an open letter to protest against the launch of the Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund. The filmmakers felt that the Fund had just one goal: Inviting Israeli filmmakers to "actively participate in whitewashing the Occupation in exchange for financial support and prizes.”
The Shomron Film Fund’s official mandate is to “distribute grants to Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”) and to productions by Israeli citizens filmed in the West Bank.”
While talking about his film ‘Synonymes’ in one of his interviews, Lapid had said that “the Israeli collective soul is a sick soul”.
“Something in the deepest essence of the Israeli existence is false – is rotten. It’s not just Benjamin Netanyahu – it’s not special to Israel. But, at the same time, I think this Israeli sickness or nature is characterized by young Israeli men muscular, smiling, who don’t raise any questions and don’t have any doubts. They are extremely proud of being Israeli. They have a totally dichotomist vision of existence: Us versus all the others," he said in an interview published in Toronto-based NOW magazine.