"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.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Free Zone by Amos Gitai

I recently had reason to view again Amos Gitai's Free Zone (2005), whose lead actress, Hana Laszlo, won a prize for “Best Female Interpretation” at Cannes. The film combines issues dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with women's relationships. Here, Gitai provides a look at the futility of the conflict from a woman's perspective.

In honor of the Passover season, I want to call your attention to the opening and closing sequences. Many of Gitai's films (such as Kadosh and Kippur) are characterized by long, introductory and concluding scenes, shot in real time. Also in this film, Gitai opens and closes the film with extreme close-ups on the women, with an eerie adaptation of two Passover children's songs -- Had Gadya, that tells a tale of violence and cruelty, a metaphor for the persecution of the Jewish people during the Middle Ages, and The Four Questions, that permits the children to ask questions at the Passover Seder. Turning around the Passover imagery, the filmmaker asks explosive new questions – "How long will this circle of horror last? Of persecutor and persecuted, of executioner and victim. When will this madness end?" These questions should concern all of us.

The version of Had Gadya, written by Yehudit Ravitz, was popularized and sung by Hava Albershtein, as a protest song during the period of the first intifada.

The film is available for purchase on DVD.

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