Thoughts about the 16th Cinema South Film Festival “The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn’t know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they’d claim their hands were clean. A jackal doesn’t understand remorse. Lions and lice don’t waver in their course. Why should they, when they know they’re right? Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton, In every other way they’re light. On this third planet of the sun Among the signs of bestiality A clear conscience is Number One.” Wislawa Szymborska has already accompanied me for two festivals, and for numerous workshops that I’ve conducted in the desert. She is a constant source of wisdom and consolation, particularly in so threatening an era as the present. In the poem “In Praise of Feeling Bad about Yourself,” she writes “On this third planet of the sun / among the signs of bestiality / a clear conscience is Number One,” she speaks of the deep and animalistic place of human nature that cannot exist with a clear conscience—never. If there is a clear conscience, then man cannot be man. We are human beings with a soul and spirit, with unbearable remorse and heavy hearts, even if our hearts weigh less than a hundredth of the heart of an orca. Man’s failure is the motor and source of his energy. “In Praise of Feeling Bad about Yourself” is ancient proof of our being human and not animals (and I love animals dearly). We torture ourselves with self recriminations endlessly, we feel remorse, we definitely doubt our deeds at every minute, and we do not accept ourselves unequivocally. Self-criticism is part and parcel of our being, often consuming much that is positive and creative, and yet we cannot—must not—give up on it. Art, creation, cinema and this festival remind us time and again the virtues of feeling bad about ourselves, with a tortured conscience and the agonizing pain of our souls, and how vital it is to touch these with open, free, simple and liberating expression. The praise of feeling bad about yourself is perhaps the only cure we, as human society, have on this Earth. Perhaps only when we have encountered ourselves without fear, through art, poetry, acting, dance, music and cinema, can we reach that place that Szymborska writes of in her poem “True Love.” “True love. Is it normal Is it serious, is it practical? What does the world get from two people Who exist in a world of their own?” And I wish to echo Szymborska and to connect between love and creation. To ask what the benefit of actual art is, art that seeks to penetrate the deep recesses of the soul, not giving up, but rather questioning, examining, cutting into the tiniest nerves, the sinews, heart and respiratory system, only to truly immerse oneself in human pain and joy, with a fearless spirit and soul, without flinching from criticism —neither inner nor external—but simply being there, as the act of love with its fullest meanings of both great excitement and sublimation, together with the probing touch into the wound and pain. It would seem that ‘benefit’ is not the right word for love, nor is it for art. Is it possible that benefit cannot be our only test tool in the world? It is possible that in order to preserve our spirit as human beings with a conscience, we must take on new tools that are actually the old tools of yesteryear—since in every dark age there are those who attempt to eradicate the use of these non-beneficial tools, trying to render them forgotten, extinct in our hearts. “True love. Is it really necessary? Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence, Like a scandal in Life’s highest circles. Perfectly good children are born without its help. It couldn’t populate the planet in a million years, It comes along so rarely. Let the people who never find true love Keep saying that there’s no such thing. Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.” On this occasion, we support the Cinema South Film Festival and the Sapir College School of Audio and Visual Arts in courageously continuing with creation and love, without fear – simply being what you are, with all of the cultural and spiritual assets that sustain a modest yet important vision – that of learning to know and touch the human soul through art, since that is what we live for. I would like to congratulate our new partners in this uncompromising dream of Cinema South – Avishai David Cahana and Oz Farbin, who direct the festival together with Hagar Sa’ad Shalom and Erez Peri, and with them Or Sagoli, Eran Barak, Ilanit Swisa, Ka’id Abu Latif and Meital Abikasis. Avner Faingulernt Wislawa Szymborska, “In Praise of Feeling Bad about Yourself,” translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baraczak and Clare Cavanagh. Wislawa Szymborska, “True Love,” translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baraczak and Clare Cavanagh.