Binoche in the turmoil of Disengagement
by Boyd van Hoeij
A last-minute addition to the Venice Film Festival was Israeli director Amos Gitai’s Disengagement [+see also:
film profile], a European-Israeli co-production that completes the director’s Borders Trilogy. It is part of the Out of Competition – Venezia Maestri section.
For Disengagement, the director of Kadosh again collaborated with French screenwriter Marie-Jose Sanselme, who also wrote the first two parts of the thematically connected trilogy: Promised Land and Free Zone [+see also:
film profile]. Liron Levo, the protagonist of Gitai’s Kippur, stars as Uli, the adoptive half-brother of Ana, a French-Israeli woman played by French actress Juliette Binoche, for whom this is the first collaboration with the director.
In Avignon, Uli and Ana meet for their father’s funeral before travelling to the Gaza strip to find Dana, the daughter Ana gave up long ago but who is mentioned in their father’s will. Their search for the girl takes them straight into the turmoil of the Gaza Strip disengagement of August 2005, when the Israeli government had to use force to expel Jewish settlers who refused to leave their homes.
Gitai deepens his themes of nations, nationhood and porous borders from the start (with language spoken including Hebrew, French, English and Arabic) and makes full use of what both the French and Israeli locations have to offer. The film also sketches the chaos and turmoil of the actual disengagement very well, though the characters never really develop beyond mere outlines.
Disengagement is a co-production involving Agav Hafakot and Hamon Hafakot (Israel), Agav Films/ Agat Films & Cie (France), R&C Produzioni (Italy) and Pandora (Germany), with backing from Eurimages, Arte France Cinéma and Filmstiftung NRW.