It was a bit like a one-night-stand when you have a really good time but he/she doesn't call in the morning and you wonder if you did the right thing...
There is so much to report from the past two emotionally-rollercoastery days but I'll skip ahead to what everyone surely wants to know...how were the screenings? And the answer is that I am still figuring out how I feel, but I can list a whole mixture of adjectives--exciting, scary, difficult, fun. I can also say that I am very excited to SLEEP tonight because it's been a couple of looooong days.
(The Tel Aviv Cinematheque has never seen a crowd like *this* before!)
On the surface, the screenings were a huge success. Both nights were completely full, and the fine folks from DocAviv were thrilled. Apparently, it was one of if not *the* best selling film of the festival. Wow. The energy at the first night's screening was amazing. So many of the punks from the movie were there, along with some surprise guests like Shira Ginsburg who I knew from summer camp, haven't seen in 13 or so years, and is now studying to be a chazzanit in Jerusalem; and Dotan Goren, an Israeli who I was with on a tiny island in Greece when the World Trade Center was hit.
There was at least one member from almost every band at the opening night, and it was so fun to hear people react when they or their friends first showed up on the screen...laughing, clapping, shouting. And they didn't stop reacting--left wing bands booed at right wing bands and vice versa. I thought there might be a fight at one point! It was really interesting for me to witness the crowd's reactions also because they were almost completely opposite from the reactions to the film so far in the US--the parts where people in the US are laughing out loud were silent here, and other parts that I never even thought were funny had people rolling on the floor!
(The Cinematheque's lobby after our screening. Hey! There's Lital and Nikmat Olalim's Tal from the movie.)
So it seemed all good--and then came the Q &A. I should have known what to expect. Like they say, "Where there are 2 Jews there are 3 opinions." Add a good dose of Israeli cynicism and you're fucked. It was so different from the generally mild-mannered Q&As in the states. I felt like I was on trial at the Supreme Court--I spent half an hour hearing everything that was wrong with the film. Of course, to put it in perspective, it was mostly the political punks who were commenting, and it is their job to be anti-everything, right?
One thing very sweet that happened was, after the Q&A when loads of people were coming up to me and saying nice things (why do they say the nice things in private and the neagtive things in public?), one of the band member's mothers came to me and said that she enjoyed the movie, and she apologized on behalf of the audience. Her explanation was that it is part of Israeli culture--that even the religious people in the yeshivot
are encouraged to question and argue with the head rabbis. Another post-show highlight was meeting Steve's awesome 13-year-old punk rock-miniature-Ramones cousin and his dad. His dad came up to me and said that he finally understood where his son was coming from. Awesome.
So anyway, the Q&A was uncomfortable but manageable. The thing that really broke my heart was talking to some of the bands afterwards. Don't get me wrong--some of them seemed to like it. But others seemed quite disappointed. I'm sure it's a combination of the film being not exactly what they expected and feeling self-conscious about being on the big screen and the fact that it was shot 2 years ago and a lot has changed since then. But still, the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint them.
In the morning, I felt like shit. I just kept thinking about it and trying to regain trust in mine and Steve and Joseph's original instincts about what to shoot and how to present the scene. I had a great "therapy session" with Avital, who, as a professional musician, was a good authority on how to deal with criticism. She said that if she gives a performance and evryone says wonderful things but *one person* says something negative, it ruins it for her. So she kinda knew how I felt.
Avital deserved this fancy "thank-you" dinner!
I think in the end the kids will be proud to be part of the movie, and when they get a chance to think about it and realize that a documentary is just a slice of life that can't possibly cover everything, and that this film was not intended as a celebration of their scene (although it is that in some ways), but as a tool to show Americans and Europeans another side of Israeli life, they will come around. In the meantime, I told them that they will all get a chance to air their grievances on camera and update us about what has changed in the last 2 years, because I brought my equipment and am going to shoot some material for the DVD.
So I haven't even gotten to the second screening yet and I can't imagine you're still reading this. Furthermore, the beach is calling my name! So get ready for the next installment which is when I tell you how everything turned out OK and I'm feeling much better now.