Friday, December 18, 2020

Israel Film Festival Spotlight: Perfect

I’ve had the privilege of screening a number of selections from the Israel Film Festival, which serves as a showcase for the best Israeli films each year. The 34rd Israel Film Festival takes place online this year from December 13th-27th, 2020.

Directed by Yaniv Segalovich
Ticket Information

Throughout history, there have been many definitions of what is considered normal. People are expected to look and behave in a certain way, and a lack of conformity has led to destructive institutions like slavery, discrimination, and ethnic cleansing. Over time, different ways of life, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, may become gradually more accepted. There remain, however, things that cannot be changed or hidden and will continue to influence how people are seen by others. Any negative associations that come from those identifiers can only be combated by education and a willingness to engage with why it is that discomfort with difference exists.

This film looks at a number of individuals in Israel with physical disabilities. Asaf, whose left side was affected in an accident when he was young, offers a perspective on his own experience while interviewing others about what happened to them and how it affects their daily lives. What society might consider their limitations, including being in a wheelchair or being unable to move their limbs or arms without assistance, may vary, but they share a common bond in how they are treated and othered constantly by those who believe that they know both how they feel and what they want people to do or not do for them.

This film is all about conversations and improving understanding, allowing its interview subjects to speak for themselves about what they’ve been through and how, generally speaking, people want to tell them how to view their own disabilities. Asaf guides the dialogues by asking pointed questions and bringing up controversial notions, like the fact that he would prefer not to go on a date with a disabled person, something that doesn’t necessarily track with his hope that others would consider him the same as a typically-abled person.

There is a great deal of humor to be found in this insightful documentary as its subjects all recount stories of absurd moments and judgments that may not have been quite as funny at the time. It’s enlightening and educational to learn what this representative sample of people deem offensive and would like to see from others, which of course starts with normalizing the idea of being different and how no one else should dictate how someone wants to be seen or treated. This film cites statistics in Israel but is very universal, and while it doesn’t purport to have all the answers, it’s a great way to begin confronting stigma and working towards a more inclusive and informed society.


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