Synonyms: Nadav Lapid’s Critical Israeli Film Wins Top Award at 2019 Berlin Film Fest

Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms, about a young Israeli man in Paris who has turned his back on his native country, won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Fest.

Accepting the award, Lapid said Synonyms, which stars Tom Mercier, would likely be considered “scandalous” in Israel and France–the film criticizes stereotypes from both nations–but added that it was ultimately a celebration.

The protagonist is a young man, named Yoav, an Israeli soldier who has fled his country, aiming to become French. Upon arrival in Paris, he gets into an empty apartment, and takes a shower. Moments later, his clothes and belongings have vanished. Naked, he runs through the Parisian apartment but finds no one.  The next day, a young couple, Emile and Caroline, discover Yoav passed out in the bathtub, and bring him to their apartment.

Thus begins a  journey of a young man, who questions the very concept of nationality and identity: what happens when you don’t feel connected to the country in which you were born, and instead trying to adopt a new culture and nationality. Yoav refuses to speak Hebrew even at work in the Israeli embassy. But trying to become French is not easy either–not only the difficult language and its grammar, but also its manners and mores.

Read about Lapid’s previous films:

Policeman

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The Kindergarten Teacher

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