"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Today in Jerusalem - "As If Nothing Happened"

Just when we were letting ourselves get used to the quiet in Jerusalem, we were hit with another attack today. Right in the heart of our city, a city that could be a city of peace, a city of equality and tolerance. But the harsh reality is so different…

As If Nothing Happened כאילו כלום לא קרה by Ayelet BargurPerhaps the best Israeli film about a terrorist attack is this very hard-hitting and dramatic short film [Israel, 1999, 50 min., Hebrew with English subtitles].

The film is produced on the historical background of the 1995 terrorist attack at Beit Lid -- on January 21, 1995, terrorists attacked a hitching station for soldiers at the Beit Lid Junction. First one bomb went off, which brought large numbers of people running to provide assistance. Then a second bomb went off, killing and maiming even more people. A total of 18 people were killed, all but one were soldiers. Dozens were injured.

The film is not about that attack as much as it is about that single moment with which every Israeli can easily identify -- that moment of fear when everyone worries about their loved ones. The film describes one moment, a moment that is stretched out for the Gonen family and lasts forever. In fact, the ticking and passing of time becomes a metaphor throughout the film – there are different clocks ticking, the ball bouncing, and the wristwatch of the IDF Casualties Officer as he is approaching the apartment. Even though time has not yet run out for Ziv, it becomes clear at the end of the film that he dies a year and a half later in a road accident in the military, and the film is dedicated to his memory.

Synopsis --One sunny Sunday morning in 1995, the Gonen family starts out on its day, like a regular day. Their son, Ziv, an IDF officer in the paratroops, is preparing to return to his unit. Their youngest son, Shai, is getting ready for school. They are a regular family – some tensions, some expressions of love, and the father is having trouble at work. Their daily routine is rudely interrupted when they hear the first report of the terrorist attack at the Beit Lid Junction, where Ziv was supposed to arrive in order to catch his bus back to his base.

Nobody knows exactly when Ziv arrived at the junction, so the father tries to drive there to look for him, but he gets stuck in a terrible traffic-jam. He was supposed to have driven Ziv all the way to the junction that morning, but dropped him at Morasha where he was going to grab a ride to Beit Lid. Angry and scared, the mother blames the father for what might have happened to their son.

Their daughter, Einat, who no longer lives at home, arrives in order to help gather information. Her ex-boyfriend, Oren, also arrives to help out. They call the hospitals and check Ziv’s base, but there is no sign of him. Meanwhile, the television news reports are constantly updating the number of dead and the number of wounded. The youngest son, Shai, returns from school, and voices the thought that everyone else is afraid even to think: “But Ziv can’t be dead”. As the hours go by without any news, the family is living under terrible tension. Is it possible that the worst has happened?

The film is available on DVD from the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University – http://www.jewishfilm.org/

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