Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MOGRABI

Year: 1999
Country: Israel/France
Run Time: 77 minutes

In Avi Mograbi the Mideast has its version of Michigan political gadfly Michael Moore and his needling nonfiction features like "Roger and Me" and "The Big One" (22nd CIFF, 1998). In this mordant video diary, Mograbi mixes weirder-than-fiction newsreel footage with his own inventions and commentary, casting a skeptical lens on the continuous 1998 celebrations over the 50th anniversary of the founding of modern Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu makes stirring speeches amidst laser light-shows as sabra nymphets dance the "Mortal Kombat" theme. Meanwhile Palestinians mark a somber half-century milestone for 418 Arab villages wiped off the map in 1948 (only the cemeteries remain). As a hyperneurotic producer orders Mograbi to change the tone of his film at every turn; as terrorist threats from Saddam and others bring the country to an eerie halt during civil-defense alarms; as a dissenting Israeli official puts the national birthday fervor on par with denial of the Holocaust for tacky revisionism, Mograbi finds himself caught in the middle of a private real-estate deal gone sour, dealing with his own set of hardliners in a Land of Milk and Honey that lately seems more flowing with venom and gas masks. (In English, Hebrew, and Arabic with English subtitles.)

Screenplay
Avi Mograbi.

Director
Avi Mograbi

Producer
Avi Mograbi, Serge Lalou.

Cinematography
Eytan Harris, Ron Katzenelson, Itzik Portal, Yoav Gurfinkel, Oded Kimhi, Yoav Dagan.

Editing
Avi Mograbi.

Principal Cast
Avi Mograbi, Shahar Segal, Daoud Kuttab, Ephraim Stan, Roni Pisker, Gidi Dar, Ido Berger.

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