Beyond the Fear, the movie that Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev insisted not be screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, was shown at Mishkenot Sha’ananim on Wednesday at two sold-out screenings, the day before the film festival opened officially on July 9.
It will still be entered in the competition for Best Israeli Documentary at the film festival.
The movie is about Yigal Amir, the man who murdered prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and his marriage in prison to Larissa Trimbobler. Regev said she would withhold government funding for the film festival if Beyond the Fear
, which was directed by the late Herz Frank (who died in 2013 before the movie was completed) and Maria Kravchenko.
Regev said last month many Israelis were scandalized by the film and had asked her to make sure it was removed, while the Jerusalem Cinematheque issued a statement saying, in part, “We oppose the very idea that a work of art can be condemned based on the topic it deals with.”
Outside the screening, a protester held a sign calling the movie offensive, and there was heavy security both inside and outside the auditorium. The audience was a curious mix of left-leaning Israelis eager to see any movie a government minister wanted to ban, and Russian speakers who were friends of Larissa Trimbobler-Amir and the movie’s co-directors.
Kravchenko and the film’s producers made introductory remarks in Russian, praising the right to freedom of speech in a democracy.
The movie is mainly a portrait of Trimbobler- Amir. It opens with footage of Rabin’s assassination, and returns to news clips of Amir in custody throughout.
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But most of it is interviews with Trimbobler- Amir, who left her husband to marry Amir, and her four children from her first marriage. There are also phone conversations between Amir and the young son he had a result of his conjugal visits with Trimbobler, as well as interviews with Amir’s mother and Trimbobler’s somewhat befuddled first husband.
The movie does not shed any new light on Amir’s motivations, which have been well documented: he disagreed with Rabin’s policies and felt that he was utterly justified in shooting the democratically elected leader of Israel in the back because of this disagreement. He has never expressed remorse.
Essentially, the movie could be called Portrait of a Marriage of Two Narcissists (one of whom – Amir – is also a sociopath).
The movie adds some depth to the image of Trimbobler-Amir that has appeared in the media previously. Friends and colleagues praise her intellect and wonder at how her ambition – she has a doctorate in history – was derailed by her passion for Amir. Trimbobler seems to blossom under the camera’s gaze, talking with great animation about her love for Amir and her feelings about him and their marriage.
I felt no sympathy for her and her complaints about the media scrutiny she brought upon herself, or for Amir, who has been treated very humanely in prison. The only sympathy the movie evoked in me was for Trimbobler-Amir’s children from her first marriage, who never asked for any of this.
Trimbobler-Amir’s self regard is most clearly apparently as her grown daughter complains to her about the unwanted attention she has received since her mother’s marriage, and her mother chides her, saying that many people view Amir positively.
Her daughter insists that very few people are positive toward Amir and her mother ignores her.
The real question about Beyond the Fear
is whether there was any justification for Minister Regev trying to censor it. The bottom line is that in a democracy, censoring movies is never a good idea. Freedom of speech and a free press are meant to insure that people can make whatever movies they want and others can comment on them in any way they want. I can understand that some people will find this movie an offensive glorification of the Trimbobler-Amir family. However, there are people who will find virtually every film in the festival offensive for one reason or another.
If every movie that offended a viewer were removed from the festival, there would be nothing left to show.
Regev’s decision to ban this film – which insured that many more people will see it than had she ignored it – makes for an odd parallel to Amir’s decision to murder Rabin.
If every Israeli who felt that the government was on the wrong track were to kill political leaders, within in a day or two there would be no politician left alive. If every movie that offends were to be banned, there would be a lot of empty theaters.
Previous ministers of culture and sport – a post that sounds like something out of the Soviet Union – including Limor Livnat of the Likud, did not try to micromanage the content of Israeli movies and culture in general.
The result of that hands-off policy is that the movie industry flowered, with Israeli movies winning one Oscar and receiving seven other Oscar nominations in the past eight years, as well as getting top awards at every prestigious film festival in the world.
And it’s not only abroad that Israeli movies have succeeded. Last year, Israeli audiences preferred Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation to any foreign film. If Regev wants to be taken seriously as a guardian of Israeli culture, she will encourage the development of the industry rather than trying to derail it. Because when Regev bans movies, her ministry doesn’t just sound Soviet – it acts like the Soviets. And we know what happened to them.
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