Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lebanon Through Israeli Movie Cameras

The first Lebanon War was a disaster when it took place in 1982, and then when it lead to an Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon and a war of attrition with Hezbollah and other local groups. In the latter half of this current decade, though, the misadventures in Lebanon have led traumatized Israeli filmmakers to make excellent, award-winning movies about the war. It wasn't the Second Lebanon War that prompted directors and writers to look back at Israel's Vietnam, since 2007's Beaufort and 2008's Waltz with Bashir were already long in the making. I wonder what was.

A new Israeli film, "Lebanon" won the Golden Lion (first prize) at the Venice Film Festival yesterday. I haven't seen it, and hope to have an opportunity soon. Director Samuel Maoz recounts his own experiences as part of a tank crew in the 1982 invasion.

I must admit that the first time I heard about "Lebanon" I thought to myself, "Oh, no, not another one." Then I thought of the fact that I actually liked the previous Israeli war movies, and if the new one is good, there is no reason not to see it.

Now I wonder if for the third year in a row, an Israeli movie about Lebanon will be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. If it is, it will be weird when they announce "From Israel: Lebanon".

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