"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, June 1, 2011

The Collaborator and His Family

For two years, filmmakers Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash documented the family of Ibrahim. This is a Palestinian family living under terribly difficult conditions in Neveh Sha'anan, a rundown neighborhood in South Tel Aviv. The resulting film which premiered recently at DOCAVIV in Tel Aviv, The Collaborator and His Family (84 min.), is a hard-hitting look at how a man and his family are treated by the Israeli authorities.

Ibrahim has a wonderful wife and five very special children. But he has chosen a difficult path – he collaborated with Israeli security forces and warned them of an upcoming terrorist attack. As Ibrahim puts it, "I saved the life of a Jewish child." In the West Bank, collaborators live in disgrace and are often assassinated. As a result Ibrahim and his family were forced to flee from Hebron and are now living in squalor in Tel Aviv.

This is a family with no identity, no papers and no health insurance. The three teenage boys are constantly getting into trouble with the police, who are harassing them to become collaborators too. They are living on the edge of society and are in and out of schools for juvenile delinquents. The mother returns to the West Bank with her little daughters, but they are not safe there either. When their lives are threatened they return to Tel Aviv and Ibrahim – out of anger and frustration -- hits his wife. The older children are alarmed and they call the police. As a result of the ensuing legal settlement, Ibrahim is forced to live separate from the family for many months; he is not permitted to leave his rooftop apartment and is unable to work.

These are very difficult circumstances. Even today, Ibrahim is struggling to obtain some sort of acknowledgement from the security establishment for what he did for Israel. Instead, he has been shunted aside by the very people who recruited him and exploited him – and, as a result, his children are paying the heaviest price.

Although we can identify with all the members of the family, this is not an easy film to watch. It is a hard-hitting and emotionally draining look at a bleak situation. It is honest and sometimes brutal. But it portrays a difficult situation which could easily be ameliorated by the Israeli authorities. International distribution for The Collaborator and His Family is via Deckert Distribution GmbH at info@deckert-distribution.com and in Israel, the film is available from Fig Films at info@figfilms.com

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