Happy Birthday Mr. Mograbi | Chicago Reader

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Israeli filmmaker Avi Mograbi juxtaposes the political and personal in this 1999 film, a playful and mildly contrarian reflection on the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of Israel's independence. An Israeli producer invites him to make a “happy film that would bring peace,” while a Palestinian one invites him to document ruins from the 1948 war; interspersed with the footage for both projects is an account—perhaps fictional—of Mograbi's dispute with a neighbor over a plot of land. The stories all inform one another, converging finally on an independence day celebration that happens to coincide with his own birthday. The startling montage of anniversary celebrations and crackdowns on Arab protesters may seem pessimistic, but it speaks volumes about the older generation's hold on the young and the political realities cloaked by all the pageantry.

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