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From Jonathan Langer to Jonathan Agassi- "Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life”

Tal Raz | 02 August 2018, 10:00

"These shattered bonds... see, the scattered pieces become sparks of light, is that possible?" "They are not sharp pieces of glass looking for the remains of the soul."

Michael Eigen


Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life is the new documentary film which was directed by Tomer Heyman, produced by his brother, Barak Heyman. The film won the Van Leer Prize for Best Documentary and Editorial Award at the 35th International Film Festival in Jerusalem. His revealing and avant-garde work is about the Israeli porn actor Jonathan (Langer) Agassi, whose image is familiar to Israeli audiences thanks to "Families," a 2013 documentary series, developed by Tomer and Barak Heyman, which portrays the stories of five Israeli families, including that of Jonathan Agassi. Similar to Saar Maoz's Who Will Love Me Now? Tomer presents Agassi's personal story, his career in Berlin, and his troubled relationship with his mother and father.




A picture taken from the Walla website


"In order to live, in the fullest sense, we must also die"

Approached for the 2009 film Men of Israel Jonathan changed his name to Jonathan Agassi, the name with which he is now identified, and began modeling and filming for pornographic films, which quickly became known among the gay community. At “HustlaBall", an organization in Berlin, he was named "Best Actor” for 2010. "I have no doubt that this was destined.  When I think about it, you can say that Jonathan Agassi saved my life ... He is a figure who controls me and helps me when necessary,” Jonathan says. Indeed, as an escape from a turbulent family life, porn offered a vehicle for self-expression, without the need for masks. . Indeed, it appears that in all the family complexities and the great pain the porn really saved Jonathan's life and allowed him to release And the ability to express oneself as is, without the need for masks.


"Redemption through destruction? There is no other way"


Heyman provides a rare and revealing view of the porn industry and, more generally, of gay sex. He followed Jonathan for several years between Berlin and Israel, between family dinners in Holon, to the fetish parties of Berlin at the Kit-Kat and the Berghain, to lunatic encounters as an escort. Jonathan gives himself entirely to Tomer’s camera-eye.  It does not deter him, in fact, it opens a space of exposure and actualization. He reveals himself: his solitary childhood, his scholastic humiliation, his transgendered adolescence, his abusive relationship with his father and the fraught dynamics with his mother.  All of it comes into view.  


In certain moments Tomer abandons the director-chair and  becomes the therapist: "Johnny, are you all right? Jonathan?“ he asks while Jonathan experiences a brief dissociation, a detachment from reality.  In another case Tomer tries to wake Jonathan, lying unconscious on the hood of a parked car in Berlin: “Jonathan, Jonathan! I'll bring you water. Everything's fine!” he reassures him.

The film, which is characterized mostly by uncompromising exhibitionism, sex scenes and masturbation, contains difficult moments to watch. One of these moments is the reconstruction of Jonathan's traumatic memory from an experience he experienced when he was 11.5 years old when he went to visit his father, Raviv, in Frankfurt. His father asks him to sleep with his new girlfriend. When Jonathan expresses his aversion or fear, his father scolds him: "You act like a gay!" The reconstruction is accompanied by pictures documenting this moment - Jonathan as an 11 year old boy kissing an elderly woman, his father's girlfriend. I think that from all the difficult feelings that arise during the viewing, this moment was the climactic moment for me, the moment that was hardest for me, as well as the moment that comes immediately after him when Jonathan is under the influence of Sam and is not aware of the camera at all. The reference to this traumatic memory appears twice during the film. For the first time Jonathan is unable to speak or reconstruct or event and he "disconnects" for the second time the reconstruction is accompanied by pictures taken from that evening and details. "This is not the first time that we see this," explains Christophe, Jonathan's German friend, the phenomenon of Jonathan's dissociation from the environment. "The second he feels pressure, he sinks into himself."


The image of Agassi interested me and attracted my attention even when I watched the series "Families". His complex childhood and development as a boy led him to an eccentric way of life and total liberation and surrender. "Before I was a porno, I was a very weak person," he says, "I just could not tell people" no. "I said," All right, all right. "The only area I felt I had strength in was sex, Passive (laughing) but dominant, no one could stop me. “
























from the Minds Society website


Family symbiosis or total devotion?

"It is true that we are bruised by the contexts that nourish us, nourishment and sabotage are intertwined in human life, there is no connection that is only nourishing or only a tank ... Where there is no food - there is no poison and vice versa "(Michael Eigen). When we think about bruised relationships, we think of our interdependence, of parent-infant attachment, of connections to self, to the universe. No one avoids sabotaging these connections or sabotaging the ability to connect. But we live with our bruised ability to relate. We make the best of bruised souls with a mixture of repulsion, disregard, walking beyond our sense of injury and trying to cure it.


One of the subjects that the film deals with delicately and sensitively is the issue of family complexity. Jonathan, 25, was born in Israel and moved to New York at an early age and returned to live in Holon with his mother and two brothers, Shahaf and Lior, after his parents separated. Since the divorce Jonathan has not been in contact with his father: "My father and I do not talk because he was never there for me and he was never our father ... This man abandoned us after I was born." In another part of the film, he responds to Tomer about his father telling him that "he did not care that Dad was not involved ... Ask my mother how old I said my father died." It seems that the implications of the divorce and the absence of a father figure are still affecting Jonathan and the family to this day. The mother and father share their experiences and each explains the events from his side. The father claims that the separation occurred because of his mother's postpartum depression. The mother claims that the situation at home was not good and that they were in financial debt and that she was miserable. Jonathan stands in the middle and tries to mediate and bridge everything - he passes a letter the mother wrote to the father. His mother confesses in one of the video chat conversations with Jonathan that he does not sleep at night and that his father's accusations bother her. There is a whole discussion and discourse surrounding truths and an attempt to decipher the events and circumstances that led to changes and changes. Since the separation of his parents, his father has been absent from his life and is not really functioning. His mother grew up alone with his two younger brothers. Over time, Jonathan and his mother developed a close bond. In one of the film's defining moments, she tells him, "You are both my man and my son," a statement that illustrates more than anything else the blurring of the boundaries of the family unit. They hold each other and nourish each other. Jonathan for her is "When You Are a King" as she writes in a Facebook post before winning the porn star "The Estella Ball" as "The Best American Porn Performer”.


Mezuzot and Porno

The total support of his mother, Anna Langer, is not self-evident and raises eyebrows. Anna embodies absolute motherhood, protective, inclusive, enabling and nonjudgmental - "unconditional love." "I found myself protecting my mothers and I see it as part of the matter, because that's the only way to really change, to understand something more about motherhood and how absolute it is, but also Yes, everything was placed on the operating table, my life was broken and sewn back, and everything was exposed and thought provoking. " Anna accompanies Jonathan in everything he passes. They talk and share each other. At the beginning of the film Jonathan shows his mother parts of the porn movies to which he was photographed. He consults her about clothing for performances in which he participates in Berlin, he shares her work as an escort and conducts video calls while he smokes crack. Their devotion to each other and their special connection is astonishing and appreciated. In one of the scenes Jonathan takes his mother to a set of photographs in Greece. Against the background of the artist Clau, and the beautiful and tranquil landscapes of one of the islands, she rode a motorcycle while his mother sat behind him and held him. At the beach they lie to one side and she puts her head on his chest and embraces him. Jonathan shares that he helps and supports his mother financially. He declares that he also has responsibility for her: "It's about me. How can I buy myself another pair of shoes when I know you can not close the month ?!" The brother and sister react with restraint and coolness to the events that take place alongside them. It seems that the greatest support and love, the same support and love that Jonathan could not get from his surroundings, he actually gets from his mother, Anna.

Jonathan's meetings with his father are very charged and difficult. Lack of understanding, lack of support, pain and absence are just some of the aspects inherent in the relationship with the father. In one of the moments of the film Jonathan met his father in the street to pass him a letter his mother wrote. His father comes late with his little daughter Zoe. They exchange a few words between them and the father declares that he also has a different life and walks with his little daughter's hand. It is hard to ignore Yonatan's pain, which is also reflected in the director's choice to show Yonatan immediately to obscure his senses and feelings through hard drugs.


Jonathan Agassi Saved Me is a courageous, poignant, daring, uncompromising and sweeping documentary piece that touches deep within the heart and mind. A family and personal portrait that touches delicately and sensitively on a traumatic experience, pain, devotion and total love, containing and not judgmental of a white mother. A film that focuses on blurring boundaries in the relationship between documented documentaries and parents and children. An avant-garde document, original and exciting!


Additional screenings at the Jerusalem Film Festival on Sunday, 05.08.2018, at 22:15.

The Lev Lev Cinema screenings began on 17.08.18.

יונתן אגסי.jpg
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