The first time Israeli Jewish director Yoav Shamir was called an anti-Semite was by an American Jewish reviewer of his film Checkpoint (SFJFF 2004), who deemed Shamir too critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. “Until then,” says Shamir, “I had never considered the central role that anti-Semitism plays in our lives. As a young Israeli, having never experienced anti-Semitism myself, I decided to learn something about the subject.”
The bracing result is Shamir’s most personal and perhaps most daring film, in which he explores the ways contemporary Jews in Israel, Europe and America learn and think about anti-Semitism, both real and perceived. Shamir takes his probing camera and (almost) innocent questions to the halls of the Anti-Defamation League, where he is granted intimate access to the fierce crusading of its globe-trotting director, Abe Foxman. Next, Shamir tags along with Israeli teens on a trip to Auschwitz, only to wonder if growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust is healthful for these young people, who are quick to assume that “everybody hates the Jews.” And he visits controversial critics of the supposed Jewish focus on persecution, like author Norman Finkelstein, allowing them enough rope to hang themselves as well. In worrying about the future of the Jewish soul, Shamir is willing to poke a stick at a few sacred cows, but he’s too gifted a filmmaker to let ideology trump thought. Defamation is an audacious film, certain to provoke discussion and debate . . . and how Jewish is that?
—Peter L. Stein
From 2008 Festival: Director, Israel
Yoav Shamir is graduate of the Tel-Aviv University Film Department, his debut film
'Marta&Luis' appeared in festivals in Edinburgh (2001), Tel-Aviv (2002) and Berlin
His second film, "Checkpoint" was a huge success winning awards such as: Joris
Ivens Award (IDFA), Best international feature documentary film Festival 2004). The film participated in over 40 festivals receiving high praise. His next documentary made in 2005, "5 days", participated in IDFA, Sundance Festival, Hot Docs among others.