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Lebanon (Levanon) - English Version -

Regia: Samuel Maoz
Lettura del film di: Franco Sestini
Edav N: 373 - 2009
Titolo del film: LEBANON
Titolo originale: LEVANON
Cast: regia, sogg. e scenegg.: Samuel Maoz – fotogr.: Giora Bejach – mus.: Nicolas Becker, Ron Klein – mont.: Arik Lahav Leibovitz [Arik Leibovizt] – scenogr.: Ariel Roshko – cost.: Hila Bargiel – interpr.: Yoav Donat (Shmulik), Itay Tiran (Asi), Oshri Cohen, Michael Moshnov (Yigal), Zohar Strauss (Gamil) – durata: 92' – colore – produz.: Anat Bikel, Uri Sabag – origine: ISRAELE, 2008
Nazione: ISRAELE
Anno: 2009
Presentato: The 66th Venice International Film Festival - competition
Premi: Golden Lion and "Padre Nazareno Taddei sj" Award 2009 at the 66th Venice International Film Festival

The story is about an Israeli tank crew used in military operations in Lebanon during the crisis of 1982: on board there are four tank drivers, but especially four boys: Asi, the commanding officer, Shmulik, the gunner, Hertzel, responsible for the loading of the parts and Yigal, the driver.
Four young boys who are operating a powerful machine but who - as stated in an inscription that appears several times (the man is made of iron, the tank is a mass of scrap metal) - are mostly boys on a machine that can stop; none of them is a career soldiers, but they have been recalled for the Lebanon conflict of 1982; each of them dreams of returning home as soon as possible; they are not frightful fighters, but only shy young men who still ask for and try to reassure their mothers.
Their task is to “clean up” a village, destroyed by a plane bombing; therefore one would expect to find – as it happens - piles of rubble and concrete, behind which one or more terrorists are hiding terrorists who, unlike the four Israelis, fight with strong and absolute faith and tenacity.
The story covers a full day, including the night, and shows how these young people, despite being willing to help their own country, are terrified and terribly scared of dying; in one of the many radio communications with the base, the driver, Yigal, requires that his mother is informed about his good state ("You know, I am an only child and she is always worried about me.")
For some reason, probably due to the poor organization of the operation, the tank of the four young people remains isolated and is "helped" only by a car driven by two Phalangists (Arabs - Christians) who would escort them to the end of the town; some of them trust the inhabitants of the car, others do not and would rather make their own way; however the problem is that the radio does not work and the communication with the base is very poor; what it is shown, in several moments, is the incomprehensible disorganization of the Israeli army , shown as an example of inefficiency and force of impact.

The film is almost entirely shot in the narrow space of the tank and this generates in the viewer a feeling of claustrophobia which creates anguish and distress; real anguish is the sensation felt by the spectators when these four young men are called to take decisions which can have “lethal” effects for others or themselves; this is the very point I would like to stress: anguish and torment are the prevailing feelings of the whole story.

The theme expressed by the author - an Israeli just over 45 years – is pretty obvious; the war, as a way to solve racial or territorial issues, is a non sense and represents an absurd solution for those who fight and for the unarmed civilians who suffer it; at this regard one of the most touching scene is that in which a terrorist, who had barricaded himself in a house, hides behind the bodies of a mother and of his daughter; both women would die, but one of the four soldiers, moved by a sense of compassion, protects with a sheet the naked body of one of the woman, whose dress had burnt, and covers her up just before she dies. 

It is not by chance that I have used the word absurd, because this is the feeling which has mostly struck me: just think that, within the tank, there is a big can used to contain the soldiers’ urine; and, during the film, there are many requests to “go for a pee”, to indicate a state of necessity which cannot be delayed, but that, in such a small space, can result in many problems; this request is also made by a Syrian prisoner and the film ends with a gesture of great humanity; one of the soldiers takes the can and help to prisoner, who being chained could not otherwise do it, to urinate; this gesture, apart from showing that in that circumstance and context, there is no “enemy”, but just another human being with the same needs, shows how young people are not bad and have no malice, but only desire to return home to their mothers.

Another remark: the driver Yigal, who had asked the base to tell his mother that he was well, is the only one who dies and, and as a coincidence, just after his death the command reports that the mother had received the communication and is thankful for it: we can include this macabre circumstance, in line with what we have said on the uselessness and madness of the war, to strongly reaffirm that the war is one of the most ridiculous things that man has invented in his long history and that man, in his endless stupidity, continues to make it more infamous for everyone.




66th. Venice International Film Festival
III edition 2009

Officially recognized by Venice International Film Festival as a collateral award


The idea of the award came from a note written by P. Taddei, found among his writings, in which he expressed the intention to Institute an Edav prize to be assigned during the Venice International Film Festival to
 the film in competition, capable of
«expressing authentic human values with the best cinematic language».


The prize, established in 2007, to mark the first anniversary of the death of F. Taddei, by CiSCS International Center of Entertainment and Social Communication  and by the magazine «EDAV (Audiovisual Education)» , was welcomed and appreciated by critics also because it is the only award entitled to a priest, a Jesuit, who had devoted his entire life to the study of the film and media language and who has always attended and supported the Venice International Film Festival.

Honorary chairwoman of the award: Claudia Koll

The Jury chaired by Paolo Mereghetti (Corriere della Sera)

is composed by

Gian Luigi Rondi (Rome International Film Festival chairman and journalist of Il Tempo), Gianluigi Bozza (L’Alto Adige), Gabriella Grasselli (director of CiSCS), Manfredi Mancuso (University of Palermo - Edav), Franco Sestini (Edav on-line), Adelio Cola (Edav).




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