Esperia is portrait of an artist looking back at his life, while dealing with the old age and the inevitable end. The protagonist is my grandfather, Jacques Motola, who was born in Egypt and spent his life between North Africa, Palestine-Israel and France. Our emerging relationship is the core of the movie. My aim is to unfold through the personal story the complex relations of history, memory and identity.
I’m following my grandfather through the pathways of his memories. At the age of ninety seven he is writing down his story and going back to different periods in his life. With his narrative we travel across the Mediterranean. He has lived to witness and be part of many changes and upheavals that resonate till this day. Art was always his passion, and even though destiny had other plans, he never gave up painting, and through them a whole life-story is revealed.
The main narrative is told by Jacques: his own path of immigration as well as his work with other Jewish immigrants after the second World War. In focus is his undercover work in Egypt, his home country, where he returned with a fake identity of Pierre Lamothe, a french transistor salesman, and a Retina camera. As he tells, “Leica was known to be used by spies, so they gave me a Retina”. Through his stories and journeys a surprising and unique perspective emerges, one that undermines in many ways the hegemonic historical narrative. Esperia, reminds the word ‘hope’, was the boat that took Jacques’ family from Alexandria to Palestine in 1935. This marked a new beginning, a new hope, a new direction in life.