“My Neighbor, Adolf” director Leon Prudovsky presents the next film

Israeli director Leon Prudovsky, whose film My Neighbor Adolf premieres Thursday in the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival, will next direct a feature film version of his 2012 short film Welcome, and our Condolences.

The project, titled Our People, is a multi-character tragic comedy centered on a Russian Jewish family who traveled to Israel in the early 1990s. On the plane, her grandmother dies, which puts her in a tricky situation: they fear losing their right to reside in Israel, so they decide to pretend that she’s still alive. Prudovsky himself was born in Russia and emigrated to Israel at the time.

“My Neighbor Adolf” is also a tragic comedy. It stars David Hayman, whose credits include The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Sid and Nancy, and the TV series Taboo, as Polsky, a grumpy old man living in the wilds of Colombia in 1960.

Polsky, who survived the Holocaust and hates all Germans, is distraught when he learns that his new neighbor is an elderly German named Herzog. When he hears that Adolf Eichmann has been found in Argentina, he convinces himself that his neighbor might be Adolf Hitler, who he believes faked his death in 1945 and fled to South America.

He sets out to convince Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, to kidnap the German, as they did with Eichmann earlier this year. But to confirm his suspicions, he must befriend his neighbor and gain his trust so he can gather evidence.

Udo Kier, whose films include My Own Private Idaho and several Lars von Trier films, plays the Duke.

Prudovsky first came up with the idea for the film after visiting Brazil. When he returned home, his longtime friend and My Neighbor Adolf co-writer, Dmitry Malinsky, suggested he write a screenplay adapted from the 1978 thriller The Boys From Brazil starring Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier and James Mason, which focuses on Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele hiding in South America. It was Malinsky who suggested the idea that Hitler survived the war and wanted to speculate on what it would be like to meet him and even look around his home.

After a sleepless night, Prudovsky decided that he did not want to focus on Hitler and try to penetrate the mind of such an evil person. Instead, he wanted to take the perspective of a person who – like his grandmother – survived the Holocaust and is still suffering from its trauma and then encounters a German who could be Hitler. “That’s interesting because it’s going to try to get into the head of the guy who’s thinking about it, not Hitler,” he says.

Prudovsky wanted to look at the “obsession” of a man “needing to find himself as a living person and not as a dead person as he is at the beginning of the film”. Polsky is someone “who never had to mourn the death of his family in the Holocaust,” he says. After 1945 he was a displaced person trying to find the best place to survive and moved to Colombia to escape the people who caused the Holocaust or who stood by and did nothing to stop it.

Prudovsky sees the relationship between the neighbors in the film as a kind of parable about two men who are kept apart by politics without really knowing each other. The key to overcoming these differences is talking to the other side, and by doing that “you can step into something more emotional and human,” he says. It could be seen as an allegory for the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, he adds.

But on a simpler level, the film is the story of two lonely old men who feel the need to connect with another human being. “Both of our protagonists are highly motivated [to interact with someone]. They are alone, they have nobody. They feel the need for social exchange. So when it starts, it just takes them there,” he says. “Sometimes the necessity [for friendship] is stronger than ideas.”

The film was the subject of an attempt earlier this week to have it banned from Locarno amid a dispute over its funding. The artistic director of the festival, Giona A. Nazzaro, rejected this move.

A group of Israeli filmmakers and artists had asked Locarno to stop the film, alleging that the Rabinovich Foundation, one of its sponsors, had attached politically motivated conditions to the funding. It has been claimed that the foundation now contractually requires producers to agree that their films contain no statement or message denying the “existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” according to a story published Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter .

said Nazzaro diversity in a statement released Wednesday: “When we selected Leon Prudovsky’s ‘My Neighbor Adolf’ in April, we chose a film that convinced us with its tremendous artistic qualities. A depiction of the complex human experience expressed through the touching performances of David Hayman and Udo Kier. As planned, Locarno will show the film on August 4th on the Piazza Grande.”

He added: “Freedom of expression and artistic freedom have been the guiding principles of the Locarno Film Festival for 75 years. We are convinced that all artistic work needs independence and dialogue and should always be produced without constraints. Leon Prudovsky confirmed that he didn’t suffer from any kind of pressure during the shooting.”

https://variety.com/2022/film/global/locarno-film-festival-my-neighbor-adolf-1235332286/ “My Neighbor, Adolf” director Leon Prudovsky presents the next film

Charles Jones

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