The 25th Raindance Film Festival: Scaffolding Review

Matan Yair taught literature in Israel for almost a decade before he switched to film-making. While teaching the subject, he came across individuals from various backgrounds – including challenging youngsters. Matan Yair believed that he could inspire his pupils by letting them follow their own path of self-discovery. One of his students was Asher – his circumstances and persona later inspired Matan Yair’s feature debut Scaffolding. The film premiered during the Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (ACID) showcase at Cannes and was also screened at Toronto International Film Festival, where it received favourable reviews from critics. Scaffolding was shown at this year’s Raindance Film Festival in London as well, where it was met with a positive feedback from the audience.

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How much does it take for a person to achieve their full potential? Asher (Asher Lax) is a 17-year old student, short-tempered, yet sensitive. He doesn’t care much for education and makes little effort to prepare for his final exams. Besides being a student, he helps his father Milo (Yaacov Cohen) with his scaffolding business. Since the old man expects that his son will take over the company one day, the boy doesn’t believe that he has any options for a different life available. But everything changes when Rami (Ami Smolartchik), a literature teacher, becomes his mentor and a role model – he helps Asher with his studies, and not only that: Rami shows Asher that he has other options in life apart from his father’s business. Although the teacher gives it his all, he himself is also lost. One day, Rami suddenly disappears from the students’ lives and leaves them with nothing but anger and sadness. With a new professor on board, can Asher carry on with what he has already set out to do? Will he gain enough inner confidence to strive for happiness and fulfillment?

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Scaffolding is a sincere and compelling portrait of a young man’s self-discovery. Matan Yair brought depth to the topic of a father-son relationship by creating great characters who desire different things in life. Scaffolding itself might serve as an allegory for Asher’s life – he can climb up high to the very top or stay at the bottom, doing nothing – the choice is his. Matan Yair’s film is well-developed and has a touching narrative which invites a viewer to relate. Asher Lax’ performance is enthralling and impeccable, especially considering that he has never acted before. For his role, the young, promising actor won Best Actor award at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July this year. Ami Smolartchik’s portrayal of the dedicated teacher is also worth mentioning: it is an honest, heartening performance. With his camera work, the Polish cinematographer Bartosz Bieniek threaded great colours in each frame and delivered pictures that felt very authentic; he did splendid work. Equally, the editing and the music score were also both spot-on. Without a doubt, this Israeli-Polish co-production stole my heart – it is a finely woven production with a profound ending. Simply brilliant!

Rating: 4-stars

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Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Sanja Struna

All Photos © Scaffolding & New Europe Film Sales


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