What an absurd situation! I am in Brazil for the “It’s All True” documentary festival and walk from the hotel’s non-stop flow of CNN news to watch Avi Mograbi´s August in the cinema across the street. I have seen the film before on VHS, but now Mograbi’s face is to fill the big screen of the 500 seat cinema. Will it work? Will I get just as emotionally involved as the first time I saw the film? I have just seen the CNN windup on Colin Powell’s diplomatic mission to the Middle East with a new discussion on whether the intrusion of Israeli forces into the Jenin refugee camp in search of suicide bombers was in fact a massacre of civilians. Where does all this violence come from?

August, a Moment Before the Eruption
August, a Moment Before the Eruption

I would not say that Avi Mograbi answers this question in his intelligent, tragicomic reflection on what it means to live in Israel. But in this third part of what could be considered a trilogy (the other two films are How I learned to Overcome My Fear and Love Ariek Sharon and Happy Birthday Mr. Mograbi), he perfects his personal style to a state of uneasiness that leaves you in a constant state of emotional agitation. He brings you to a point of embarrassment on behalf of the film’s characters including himself.

That is basically what I appreciate about Mograbi as a director: he does not spare himself. And if this film is about the mental state of a country that is completely submerged in aggression, tension, fear and paranoia, Mograbi must certainly include Mograbi (and his wife, but that is another story I will get back to).

August is a month Avi Mograbi hates. Thirty-one days of unbearable heat where nothing much happens. And yet he senses small frictions in the street life as he wanders around with his small camera. A woman tries to help a drunk or drugged man back on his feet. Nobody helps the woman. People shout at each other on a street corner. A normal traffic situation.

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