A personal search by award-winning Israeli director Yoav Shamir for better understanding of anti-Semitism is the focus of Defamation. Filming takes Shamir from Israel to many parts of the world.The filmmaker deconstructs the concept of anti-Semitism in contemporary society by searching for its genesis, its effects and its face among ordinary individuals. The feature-length film has been shot in a hand-held cinema verité style, without archive or reconstructions.
Shamir films individuals convinced that they will be persecuted no matter what and individuals who believe that persecution of Jews no longer exists. The narrative is propelled by individual stories from Jews and non-Jews, with experts on board to establish the big picture. Shamir’s focus: “When we are talking about anti-Semitism, what do we mean? What is anti-Semitism in a daily sense? Does it take different forms in different places? How serious is it? Is there a ‘new anti-Semitism?’ Is being an Israeli detachable from being a Jew?”
Defamation journeys through history, culture and philosophy. Opinions on anti-Semitism expressed by experts are posed to the man in the street. The numerous shoot locations create a mosaic of understanding, and, according to Shamir, “anti-Semitism is examined in a genuine manner, bereft of all the mythology and mysticism that can obfuscate discussion.”Is anti-Semitism on the rise or on the decline? With the U.S. now “secure”, should resources be poured into other parts of the world – and if so, how? Defamation also explores the battle playing out among Jews: those who argue, as Abe Foxman, head of the ADL, does, that the stakes are so high that nothing can be taken for granted, or with those who see fear-mongering as a way to gain political clout and exert influence on policy.
Defamation was screened at national and international film festivals.
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