Interview With Asaf

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Audacity Magazine was able to grab some quiet time with Ami Ankilewitz’s best friend, Asaf, in the film “39 Pounds of Love”. It is a documentary about Ami’s travels from Israel to the United States in search of a doctor, a dream and more. Read the movie review in the cultureShock column of this month’s issue.

After the screening of the film at Shake A Leg’s historical hangar in Coconut Grove, Florida, film viewers asked Asaf questions about Ami which he graciously and humorously answered to the more than fifty members in the audience. Even after that session, the audience couldn’t get enough so Asaf spoke to almost every individual person in the room, answering more questions, posing for pictures and handing out business cards with a smile that lit up the night.

Trying to interview Asaf turned out to be quite the challenge. But never fear your overly audacious reporter got the job done! That’s right, all of you should be very thankful that I waited so patiently for over an hour to get some quality time with Asaf.

I have to admit that I was a bit shocked at the statements, questions and reactions of some of the people who flocked around him. Many of the people there are actively involved in the lives of people with disabilities, yet they make some statements that would roll our eyes to the back of our heads. I won’t tell you what they asked but trust me Asaf has the patience and kindness of a saint!

So now the pressure was on me to ask him questions that didn’t sound as dumb as the others. Asaf sat on the back end of a pickup truck and we had an interesting conversation about Ami, the filming of the documentary and his own goals for the future.

If you have not read my review on this movie then stop reading this article! Go read the review and then come back. Don’t worry, we will wait, but not for too long!

Ok, you’re back.

Asaf was Ami’s best friend before the filming of the movie. He used to be Ami’s caretaker. This was before the Christina days. In the film, Asaf explains to Ami’s family that he and Ami are no different and supports Ami’s decision to take this journey. It is something that he must do.

According to Asaf, everyone involved in the journey used their own funds to financially support this endeavor. That takes loyalty and dedication from everyone to feel so strongly about a man’s desire to pursue a goal that they would use their own funds.

Luckily, HBO liked what they saw in the film and will be airing it on March 22, 2006. Afterwards, the DVD will be out in May with an additional hour of footage including a behind the scenes look and information on Ami’s present love interest.

Ami’s love life is very much in the minds of the people. Funny, people asked Asaf the silliest questions yet, they didn’t ask Asaf about Ami’s ability to have intimate relations with a woman. Instead they asked each other. There is a scene in the movie where a saleswoman asks Ami if he likes sex. Now there is a dumb question. Ami answers, “Who doesn’t?” Good for you, Ami!
So I ask Asaf if Ami would mind me asking him this personal question that is on many people’s minds. Yes, I know! That is an audacious question!

There was no need to ask Ami because Asaf answered with a resounding, Yes! Hit and score one for Ami!

I also noticed while I waited for Asaf that many people had this “ooh wow! Ami is so great!” attitude and I asked Asaf how he felt about these types of reactions.

Asaf might be young but his words were wise and true. He said that people react this way because they don’t know any other way to react. They are not in a position to see Ami and his friendship with Ami as merely a friendship between two human beings.

Several times, I overheard Asaf explain to people that Ami is like everyone else. Later, he told me that Ami is his best friend and as in any friendship there can be good times and bad times. Asaf stated that there are times when Ami can be annoying and that he would feel like socking it to him! Of course, that can happen in any friendship regardless of an existing disability.

How true! I know that Audacity readers would agree to that statement!

I told Asaf that putting Ami’s disability aside, Ami is a very intellectual and wise person as seen in the movie. There are times in the movie where he could have lashed out and he took the higher and more peaceful road. Asaf clearly admires his best friend’s strengths which is one of the reasons he felt strongly about supporting Ami’s decision to go to such great lengths in order to fulfill a dream.

The bond between these two men is very prominent in two of the scenes in the movie. The first one is when Ami has difficulty breathing at the Grand Canyon and Asaf holds him in his arms. The other scene is when Asaf spoon feeds Ami soup while trying to persuade Ami to return home due to Ami’s failing health. In the end, Ami decides to continue the journey because a man climbing on Mount Everest doesn’t quit when he is half way there so why should he?

Asaf said that Ami had a deciding voice in the entire documentary. However, when Dani, the director, saw the animated love story after the documentary was filmed, he went back and added the animation story in the appropriate places to give it that personalized Ami touch.

My time with Asaf was soon ending as people found our hide out and began to surround us from all angles. However, I will tell you this much, Asaf is proud to have Ami as a friend because he has learned so much from him about life and love.

Asaf hopes to continue a career in film making and Ami is a 3D animator in Israel.

Audacity Magazine is thankful for the opportunity to speak with Asaf and we wish you, Ami and everyone else involved in this fantastic production much success!

Catch the movie, “39 Pounds of Love” on HBO March 22, 2006. Then, go out and buy the DVD on May 1, 2006. Remember to check out the link on the right side of your screen to see a trailer and read more information ab

out Ami and his life!