Premise and Structure
Kafka for Kids will be a cross-generic film, combining a fiction drama with a docu- mentary and a musical. The law as a central motif in Kafka’s writings, and the fact that the film, supposedly, addresses children, would lead to an exposition of the complex and troubling ways in which childhood is legally defined in the occupied territories. In this process, the film itself undergoes a metamorphosis.
The narrative premise presents the film as a pilot for a TV series that aims to make Franz Kafka’s stories palpable for toddlers. The story delivered is The Metamorpho- sis, and it is conveyed through three alternating stylistic means. First, a parent-fi- gure reads the tale to a child, in a living room whose setting is exceedingly colorful and busy with details, in a manner familiar from numerous TV programs. Second, Gregor Samsa’s transformation to a vermin and the following events are conveyed through animation. Finally, certain turns in the story, as well as several mascots who appear in the program, prompt a musical number.
The televised format, it is soon revealed, also includes commercial breaks. These breaks will become gradually longer and less predictable, until eventually they evolve into separate segments, with their own sense of continuity and purpose. Two elements that will be central in this development will be an alternative story, and a panel discussion offering a completely different reflection of children in relation to a key topic of Kafka’s writings : the law. Specifically, in light of reality in the occupied territories which sees a marked escalation in the number of detained minors and the harshness of punitive measures taken against them, the panel will investigate and explore the ways in which the military law not only tackles the problematics of its punitive measures towards children, but the very definition of childhood under these conditions. But this transformation of a fiction film into documentary would prove misleading once more, as the presentation of the panel will culminate in a long lecture by a fictive legal scholar.
The Living Room Set
As the story is being told and events occur on the set, voices are heard responding and commenting in a manner akin to the choir in Greek drama. As the shots become more open, it is revealed that this choir consists of furniture pieces and objects in the room which are, in fact, actors.
The panel features a lawyer who represents Palestinian minors and describes the pragmatic reality of court and detention proceedings, a legal expert who addressed some particular thorny aspects of this legal system, and an artist and theorist who elaborated on Kafka story The Fasting Artist in relation to a Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike. The short segments culled from these three presentations lead to the epic monologue by a fictive scholar (played by Hani Furstenberg, the same actress who will act as the child to whom the stories are read to), who offers to describe the legal singularity of Israel’s military law in a primary fashion, as if she is speaking to a total stranger. The disintegration of her lecture leads back to the TV set of Kafka for Kids.