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The Victim

Adam Sanderson

Israel, Germany


On a hot summer day, Assa, a high-tech analyst, bumps into a ragged, destitute homeless man. Assa immediately recognizes the guy; his name is Ari, and he was once a brilliant analyst before getting fired several years ago from the same company Assa still works for. Based on their short conversation, it seems that Ari lost everything after losing his job – his wife left him, and no one else in the industry would hire him again.

Assa tries to get back to his routine, but something about this random encounter haunts him. Why was Ari fired? From short conversations with his workmates it seems that Assa was Ari’s rival and there are hints that maybe Assa was responsible for his dismissal. This ambiguous guilt pushes Assa to help Ari out. He tries to find him a new job, and even lets Ari move into his apartment.

But pretty soon Assa discovers that Ari has no ambition to change, he lands in his house with no intent to leave. Assa becomes distressed by Ari’s behavior, he is not as innocent as he thought he was. Ari slowly takes control of Assa’s life, starts messing with his mind, until the point where it is not clear who is the oppressor and who is the victim.


My first encounter with The Victim was when I found this book in my library, unaware of how I got it or who bought it for me, the book just lay there on one of the shelves. I opened the book and started reading. As the pages turned, I felt I was mesmerized by something very strong and unique – an original story about guilt. I recognized myself in Assa’s predicament,
I felt what he felt, I knew what it is like to be guilt-driven, how confusing it is, how disastrous the implications are. What is fascinating for me is the ambiguity of guilt – a two faced, deceiving creature, which is uncatchable like a bar of soap. The whole dramatic pulse of the story lays in the tension of Assa’s inability to decide whether to help Ari or to kick him out of his life, and this is a definition of the human spirit for me, beautiful and sad at the same time.

In this adaptation Saul Bellow’s 1940s New York is replaced by presentday Tel Aviv, and the professional newspaper industry is replaced by the high-tech arena. The world of high-tech is extreme in both its salaries and in its savage rivalries. Young wonder boys are constantly replaced and the fear of being dismissed is always present.

I like to deal with ambiguous feelings in films, feelings that are hard to define. I find so much to share cinematically with this book, contributing my own music to Bellow’s lyrics, recreating his tragic and absurd story, touching on this particular universal human condition and adjusting it to my own country and time. I think this adaptation can shed an interesting light on modern capitalistic wannabe Israelis, while also show the collapse of a man who spirals downwards by the demons of guilt.


How far will we go to cleanse ourselves of guilt?
Adam Sanderson

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Adam Sanderson

written by
Adam Sanderson, Guy Meirson