Monday, January 6, 2020

Ofra Bloch's masterpiece AFTERWARD hits theaters Friday

This is a repost of the review I ran when the film played at DOC NYC in 2018

 AFTERWARD is by Ofra Bloch a psychoanalyst who wanted to confront the notion of hate within the Jewish/Palestinian communities. She wanted to know what the effect of the hatred was on both communities since she realized that she had been raised to hate Germans because of the Holocaust and to hate the Palestinians because "they were coming to take their land". She soon realized that part of the problem of why she hated these people was that there was no dialog between the groups. Not only hadn't she spoken with Germans or Palestinians- many Germans didn’t know how to talk to Jews because they were afraid the sins of their fathers would get them hurt, while the Israelis and Palestinians seemed to only interact violently. As a result no one talked and the uncertainty bred suspicion and uncertainty. To break the ice she would talk to those she was supposed to hate and hate her.

Ms Bloch has made a film of such incredible power it has left me tongue tied and rambling...

Digging deep into her own life and family Bloch explains takes us on a journey to understand why and how the hatred has been allowed to fester. She gives us example from her own family how stories as a child didn't fully allow her to understand what happened during World War Two. In order to put things right she goes to Germany and into the occupied territories and talks to people and experiences what things were/are like.

And what she finds is troubling. People can not move forward from their own and our shared history. The Holocaust, which sought to eliminate the Jewish people is being used against the Palestinians as a way of shutting them up. The Palestinians don't like that their "oppressors" are portraying themselves as victims in a way that makes it impossible to fight back back. The displacement of the Palestinians, the Nakba, where a million or more people were displaced in a single day, is still an open wound. Part of the reason being the rules laid down by Israel which make the basic process of living difficult even to the point where they can not bury their own dead.

Bloch is confused by it all at times, but she, and we, begin to gather some answers over the course of her journey. Working slowly and patiently she begins to find through lines. There is perhaps a way to begin to heal some of the wounds.

The journey is AFTERWARD and it is an unconditional masterpiece.

I honestly don't know what to say. This is a film I need to see again to due it justice, but because of the sheer weight of the DOC NYC I am going to have to circle back after the festival and take a more detailed look. But you shouldn't wait-you should just go see it.

Know that Bloch succeeds in taking a complex subject and making it personal. By relating everything back to her own experiences she makes her journey our own. We feel her confusion because she makes us understand where she is coming from. Bloch also doesn't shy away from mixing heady subjects with emotion your hear will breaking at some revelation while your brain ponders what it all means..

That this is Ofra Bloch's first film is truly amazing. How this person has managed to make a film of such staggering power the first time out of the box is mind blowing. No filmmaker I can think of, male or female, has ever made a film as nigh perfect and as deeply affecting as this one the first time. Watching the film I kept to IMDB to see what else she has done and only to discover this was her first film.

In a time filled with hate and mistrust and a world on the edge of collapse from all the pain, AFTERWARD is a shining beacon of hope.

AFTERWARD is a must see film for everyone.

In Theaters January 10, 2020 and on VOD January 28, 2020

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