Amit Epstein

The film trilogy Stockholm Syndrome deals with the coming of age of young Israelis in a European culture of exile shaped by the grandparents and with the love between grandchildren and grandparents, through which the paradoxes of trauma and safety are passed on and transformed. Even decades after emigration, Europe remains the homeland of childhood and the resource of one’s cultural identity for those who in response to anti-Semitism in Germany built up a state of their own or who later fled from certain murder. For the next generations, Israel and Europe are two poles of cultural orientation. In a futuristic way, the memorial of the Negev Brigade sets itself off in Part 2 as a site of remembrance of the Israeli war of independence, where two female dancers sing of Israel as the new homeland, before the young protagonist is drawn to the homeland of his grandparents. With Golden Mission (2007), European Haven (2007) and Jewish Revenge (2010), all three parts of Stockholm Syndrome will be shown for the first time in an exhibition. In the final part of the trilogy completed in 2010 entitled Jewish Revenge, the camera accompanies a young Israeli arriving in present-day Berlin. Confused, angry and shocked by the undestroyed sites in Berlin, the architecture of National Socialism and also by the sceneries of memorial architecture, the young protagonist played by the artist himself painfully becomes aware of the hitherto abstract historical relations he was only familiar with from history books. It is only in the encounter with Germany today that he feels paradoxically Jewish and becomes a ‘Jew’ in the eyes of others. Between the steles of the Holocaust memorial he meets Germans of the same age. In the ensuing meetings and relationships, mutual reservations, understandable impulses of revenge on the side of the young Israeli and concernment, sweeping anti-Israeli attacks and feelings of guilt on the side of the German siblings – staged based on the fairy tale Peter and the Wolf – are entwined to a fatal symbiosis. A chain made of golden human teeth metonymically symbolises both the horror of the Shoah and the millions of cases of private enrichment by the non-Jewish, German population through the expulsion and murder of their neighbours.
›It’s been a while. I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting but I’m here now.‹ With the aid of quotes from pop music and (historical) hit culture, Amit Epstein succeeds in accomplishing the impossible: Naming the traumas, the undealt-with perpetrator-victim relations that still remain effective in the third generation, as well as their unexpected, humorous transcendence. Epstein’s film can be viewed in the double sense of the German word ‘Heimsuchung’ (visitation / affliction): When searching for the homeland, there is no way around grief.

The Stockholm Syndrome 1 – 3:
Director: Amit Epstein
Screenplay: Amit Epstein
Camera: Benjamin Chiram
Editing: Part 1+ Part 2: Becky Ofek ; Part 3: Sarah J.Levine
Actors: Amit Epstein, Renana Raz, Shira Raz, Idit Neudoerfer, Sandra Sade, Anna von Rueden,
Christoph Glaubacker, Wolfgang Menardi, Irina Szodruch and Clarutza Arden

Jewish Revenge was funded by the Hauptstadtkulturfond Berlin.

Amit Epstein works as an artist, film-maker and costume designer at several theatres in Germany; he has been living in Berlin since 2003 and became a German citizen in 2013.

    Right: Amit Epstein: ›Stockholm Syndrom‹, 2007-2010 and left: Anna Schapiro ›Vier Verwandte‹, 2013, Photo: David Brandt
    Amit Epstein: ›Stockholm Syndrom‹, 2007-2010. Installation view Wroclaw. Photo: Małgorzata Kujda
    Amit Epstein: ›Stockholm Syndrom‹, 2007-2010. Installation view Wroclaw. Photo: Małgorzata Kujda
    Stockholm Syndrome © Amit Epstein 2010 photo Avi Levin
    Stockholm Syndrome © Amit Epstein 2010 photo Avi Levin
    Stockholm Syndrome © Amit Epstein 2010 photo Raluca Blidar
    Stockholm Syndrome © Amit Epstein 2010 photo Avi Levin