|Directed by:||Julie Shles||Rating:||TV-14|
|Release Date:||1995||Running Time:||60|
|Language:||Hebrew (English subtitles)||Genre:||Documentary|
|More Info:||The Music of Danny Bassan||Category:||World Jewry|
When prominent Israeli musician Danny Bassan set out to find the father he never knew, he thought it would be easy. He couldn’t have been more wrong. A highly-personal documentary, Baba Luba follows Bassan’s search for answers and his struggle to cope with the truth that’s nothing like he imagined.
“If you’re asking me what I want, I don’t know,” Bassan admits to the camera, unsure of why he is traveling across the world to find a man that he knows nothing about. All he does know is that “just saying the word ‘daddy’ is difficult.”
Bassan left his birthplace of Brazil for Israel with his mother in 1955, when he was just a little boy, and never returned. His mother died soon after they left, and Bassan never heard from his father. As a result, his childhood was full of loneliness and he was left with almost no clues to his father’s whereabouts. Determined to track him down, Bassan returns to Brazil, forced to rely on a few old photographs and the kindness of strangers to help him in his search.
But Bassan doesn’t travel to Brazil alone. He’s followed by the Baba Luba film crew and local television personalities who take interest in his search. They help him, but they also invade his most intimate moments of discovery. Before Bassan sets off, a close friend confides that he thinks having a camera crew following Bassan will seem pompous and strange to the outside world. But Bassan is less concerned with the impressions he makes on the outside world than with the invasion of his own privacy. In fact, when he does finally reunite with his father, he sends the local TV crews away, whispering, “I want to be alone with him.”
Fortunately for us, the documentary’s camera gets to stay and capture the film’s climactic moments, when Bassan finally learns the disappointing truth about his father. Far from meeting the heroic ideal of Bassan’s imagination, his father has lived a life full of crime, guns, attempted suicide, lies and other wives.
Nothing, it turns out, is as Bassan thought. Even his grandmother — who he always believed lived a pitiable life selling socks from a suitcase — turns out to have spent her 86 years on earth enjoying lavish parties and keeping herself attractively thin. The advice given to him earlier by a friend turns out to be especially apt: “I hope you’re prepared for anything,” he says.
A psychologically astute film, Baba Luba recognizes the lasting effects parents –- and their absence — have on their children. Danny is not a young man. He has an established career, a wife and children waiting at home. But when he talks about his father the hurt little boy inside of him is exposed.
As an adult, however, he can choose to let his father hurt him again or to simply accept the unpleasant truth and move on.