Monday, May 13th, 2013

Family Ties aka Zeman Mishpacha

When Israeli filmmaker Nitzan Gilady crammed his parents and two grown up brothers and one sister in lawn into an RV to travel thousands of miles across country for a week to go visit the Grand Canyon I was very skeptical. What on earth could happen over the Passover holiday with the family living on top of each other in this tiny space that would make this fly-on-the-wall documentary interesting?  Actually a lot as it happens, and without the normal distractions of their usual daily routines the family started unloading some of their emotional baggage that they had been avoiding dealing with, and the result was totally fascinating.

Nitzan’s father was a Yemeni Jew who had moved to Israel at a very early age where his mother promptly died and he ended up in a Boarding school. His own father was a distant figure in his childhood resulting in him growing up tough, slightly hard, and determined to succeed.  The determination also translated in giving, or rather imposing on, his wife and their three sons every opportunity in life that he felt he never had.  Like his own father before him he was tough, and was uncomfortable showing or dealing with any of his feelings.
Nitzan’s older brother was a rebel in his youth and pain in his father’s side as he refused to take life seriously. The only son to be married  …. although his wife was in the RV she was not filmed as the marriage dissolved soon afterwards.  He was still the family drifter.
The younger brother had served time in the Israeli Army and was now suffering from shell-shock.  He was diffident, moody and very temperamental as a result and was struggling to deal with life in general.  It was accepted that he would always need to live at home with the parents as he was far too volatile to be left to his own resources.


And then there was Nitzan.  He had escaped from Israel to NY so that he could eventually come out of the closet which he did so at the age of 30, but it took him another 5 years before he even dared tell his very conservative parents.  They know he is gay but refuse to talk about it at all, until one night on the trip Nitzan forces the issue and makes his father confront his bigotry, which to a lesser extent the mother also has.  It is a pivotal moment in the film and the raw emotion of these two opposing views : one based in ignorance and real fear, and other rational one from an unhappy filmmaker who just wants his father’s love and acceptance is heart-wrenching and highly emotional.


In fact it is the same demand that all three brothers have of this very rigid old man who does obviously love all his sons even though he may never be able to actually come to terms with the fact that none of them have turned out how he really wanted them to be.


Trapped in the RV for the week forced them to talk as a family…shout even…as well as the never-ending scenes eating matzo and cracking sunflower seeds. I think the fact that the Father not only went along with his son’s idea of making this movie and showing some of the more uncomfortable exchanges which didn’t always show him in a flattering light, spoke volumes about his inner desire to change.  And it said even more about how resilient this family no matter what they need to confront.


Anybody who had to deal with raw emotional exchanges with their own family (isn’t that all of us?) will really relate to this wonderful wee documentary, although in my case, it has put me off RVs for life!

Posted by queerguru  at  04:17


Genres:  documentary, international

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