"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.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lipstikka by Jonathan Sagall

A new film by Jonathan Sagall opened this week in Israel. 

As an actor, Jonathan Sagall has appeared in a number of international films, including Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and George Roy Hill's Little Drummer Girl.  He is well known to Israeli audiences for his role as a teenager in Boaz Davidson's Lemon Popsicle and its sequel, Going Steady, and he won an award for best actor for his role in Amos Gutmann's Drifting.  In more recent years he has turned to directing -- his directorial debut, Urban Feel, won prizes at Valencia, Varna and Haifa. 

Sagall's new film, Lipstikka, is about two Palestinian women.  Although the film is clearly critical of Israeli soldiers, this is not the focus of the film.  The story opens with two Palestinian girls living in Ramallah – Inam and Lara -- one is Christian and one is Muslim.  In order to celebrate Lara's birthday, they decide to cross the checkpoint into Jerusalem, where they have a terrible encounter with brutal and macho Israeli soldiers who manipulate and violently abuse them.

Years later, Lara (stunningly played by Clara Khoury) lives in a beautiful home in London with her husband and her 7-year-old son.  Her life is bourgeois and dull, her husband is unfaithful and she drinks too much.    The film begins and ends with her saying: "I could have had a different life," which is terribly sad.  One day, her old friend Inam shows up at the door -- she was the wild one when they were teenagers years ago.  Today, they have a difficult and ambivalent relationship, with many flashbacks to their growing up together in Ramallah.

This is a complex and difficult film, about themes of sexuality, emotional disintegration, suicide, rape, and a lesbian relationship. 

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