Commentary from the author

Technical sheet . | . Synopsis . | . Author comment . | . Contribution . | Francaisעברית

From a Jewish mother, and from a communist father, of Spanish origin, I was born in Algeria in 1947.  Wanting to be an Algerian citizen, and having adopted the communist convictions of my father, I remained in Algeria, after its independence, to remain faithful to my parents. I only left Algeria in 1993, threatened by Islamists.

I made this film to understand why for fifty years I had hidden the Jewish world, Judaism, and Israel from myself. Feeling as I did however that I was not, Jewish, one of the consequences was that I never saw my maternal uncle, who died 14 years ago. He had left Algeria in 1961 for Israel, so I did not know my three cousins either.

My latest film “Algeria, unspoken stories“, (banned in Algeria because for the first time ever, that film described the massacres committed by the FLN against the non-Muslim population throughout the “war of liberation”, which thus also became ” a war of purification ”), that film was finally distributed in France in 2008.

That film was selected by the International Festival of Jerusalem, although hesitant but encouraged by my daughter; I accepted the invitation, without imagining that this trip would be the beginning of a new adventure including my present film presented here. ” Israel, the forbidden journey ” bears witness to all this.

In its own way, this film is a cinematographic essay on the “Jewish Question” in the form of a road-movie that consists of making numerous trips back and forth between my own story, and the discovery of this trillion-year-old Jewish history that, but a short time ago, was totally unknown to me.  Still little, I did not. At the same time, I was absorbing part of the Israeli ethnic diversity (Christian and Muslim Arabs, Bedouins, in particular. 

I shot the film myself for a year, accompanied by my Israeli co-producer Ziva Postec, for the translation, and my daughter: In part, a way of transmitting the whole tale to her, this film is also meant for a young man lacking landmarks and knowledge,  as was true of both of us, about Israel.

Although introspective in nature, this film is not narcissistic. Holding the camera, the only time I am seen is when I go to my uncle’s grave in Ashdod: There, I am filmed by my daughter.

This journey into myself is first and foremost a way to discover and cover reveal everything that, whether for ideological or for less obvious ones I wanted to ignore: a people, its sites, its history, recent and ancient, its beliefs…

Was it because of this burden that crushes him as soon as his father says “Israelite”  so as not to pronounce the hurtful word, ‘’Jew’’? Because paternal atheism had made me reduce Judaism to a religion? Since, later, my parents remained in Algeria after independence, and having become myself an Algerian, it was unthinkable even to question the two words that structure the Arab world’s hostility towards Jews: Zionism and Palestine? Or simply because the “Jewish Question” still does not seem to have been answered, since even today some Jews still wonder whether the Jewish people really exist?

Beyond my itinerary, and this long self-questioning, at which the film hints,  the spectator, both non-Jewish, and Jewish, is invited to review his own ideas vis-à-vis the Jewish world and Israel, often linked to treacherous words, soon rigidified into prejudices.

But beyond the set of challenges of this film, everyone will be able to question his own taboos, his denials, his self-censorship, his conditioning, and the work to be done to free him or herself…

If this film can be considered as a break in my work, since I examine what I had previously repressed, it is nonetheless in continuity with my last trilogy (Algerias, my ghosts / An Algerian dream / ‘’Algeria, unspoken stories “), both for the content (identity in the face of history) and especially for the form (road-movie).

If my last trilogy was in search of the paternal utopia of multiethnic fraternity, this quadrilogy is rather a quest for truth, dedicated to my mother, and to my uncle.

Jean-Pierre Lledo