Know thyself: "I am not" review

English Daily #1
I AM NOT (2021) / International Competition
Tomer Heymann
10.7 12:30 Moscow Cinema Blue Hall
11.7 17:30 Moscow Cinema Blue Hall

Born in Guatemala, Oren was just a baby when he was adopted by Israeli spouses Ehud and Deborah. As the years passed, the boy’s parents began to observe unusual behavior in their son. After extensive research and examinations, doctors concluded that Oren had Asperger's syndrome. Unfortunately, racial discrimination, endless medical tests, numerous instances of misdiagnosis, and incomplete treatment not only worsened the boy's mental health but also further intensified his struggles with self-identification.

Recognizing that this story is inherently emotional and doesn't require much embellishment, director Tomer Heymann maintains a delicate balance in I Am Not. Effectively capturing the restless essence of its protagonist, the estranged and disconnected Oren embarks on a journey to Guatemala in search of his biological parents. The director is simply there to follow the boy, documenting his journey without knowing where the story ends, which results in a film akin to an odyssey, centered around the pursuit of home.

Heymann also incorporates footage filmed by the protagonists, using the video diaries to compose a layered family chronicle. Of course, the parents find themselves in a challenging position, but once they have assumed responsibility, there is no turning back. The film takes us into a realm of intense intimacy, where love and care coexist with feelings of pain and guilt. Now, it is Oren who never puts down the camera, nurturing dreams of becoming a film director. At times, we glimpse the world through the lens of his camera. It is in those amateur scenes that the essence of cinema's simplicity shines through. For the boy, the camera becomes an alternative means of communication with the world around him.

Alexander Melyan