Memory culture © Leo Khasin

Wed, 11/01/2023 -
Thu, 11/30/2023


Memory Culture

Kaddish for a Friend
by Leo Khasin (Germany 2011)
with Ryszard Ronczewski, Neil Belakhdar, Neil Malik Abdullah, Sanam Afrashteh, Kida Ramadan a.o.


Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp, fourteen-year-old Ali learned to hate Jews from an early age. After fleeing Lebanon, he and his family found shelter in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Here, he is looking for acceptance among his Arab peers. But first he has to prove what he is capable of.

As a sign of his courage, Ali breaks into the apartment of his Russian neighbour Alexander Zamskoy. He is eighty-four years old, a World War veteran and a Jew. The youths follow Ali and vandalize the old man's apartment to excess. But only Ali is recognized by the prematurely returned Alexander and reported to the police. To avoid a conviction and the deportation that comes with it, Ali is forced to seek the proximity of his enemy. The thoughtful story of an unequal friendship. (International Film Festival Hof)

Writer-director Leo Khasin's feature debut tells the story of the conflict between Arabs and Jews that takes place here on two floors of a Berlin apartment building. In an interview, Khasin revealed that in an initial vision he had in his head of his future film, an Arab boy would say the Kaddish. The Kaddish, one of the most important prayers in Judaism, is a remembrance of departed souls and is recited at funerals by the nearest male relative of the deceased. Incidentally, Khasin himself worked for several years as a dentist at Berlin's Mehringplatz, the setting for the film.

"An unobtrusive, quietly told film whose message of reconciliation touches the viewer all the more deeply." - Cinema

"With its quiet narrative style, the film manages to address guilt and forgiveness in the microcosm of a small interpersonal encounter against the backdrop of a global conflict." - from the statement of the jury of the German Film and Media Rating for the award of the rating “valuable"

“A prime example of a successful dialogue between generations beyond religious and cultural barriers." - Vision Kino

"In a multi-faceted and at the same time exciting film, Khasin tells of a life between subsistence level and everyday worries, between dependence on government offices and encounters with the past. This has become anything but a black-and-white story." - Jüdische Allgemeine

"The chamber-play-like drama runs the gamut of emotions of historical entanglements in its intergenerational rapprochement, with friendship triumphing over political-religious dogma in the end. This remarkable debut film relies on the conventions of naturalistic staging, but is not stingy with comic moments." - Encyclopedia of International Film

Program with subtitles available Canada-wide for free. Viewer discretion is advised.

Part of the Goethe-Institut's focus on Memory Culture