"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.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Moroccan Spice

Orange People, directed and written by Hannah Azoulai-Hasfari, is an intriguing and wonderful woman's story -- about three generations of Jewish Moroccan women, living in contemporary Israel.  In both of Azoulai-Hasfari's films (she also wrote the script for Shchur), the subject matter is about supernatural powers.  According to Azoulai-Hasfari (in a radio interview on Reshet Bet, May 2, 2014), the Moroccan culture has a strong belief in the power of dreams and demons. 

Orange People is a richly colorful and quirky film, focusing on a Jewish Moroccan grandmother, Zohara.  Having grown up on the coast in Tangier, she is strangely connected to the sea and lives in an old house on the seashore.  She has some kind of extrasensory perception whereby she is able to enter into a spell and dream the past, and then provide advice on a client's future.  

Beautifully photographed in rich and warm colors, the focus of the film is on Zohara's relationship with her two daughters, neither of whom want to continue her line of work.  Instead, both of them work professionally as cooks -- one has a restaurant in Bat Yam and the other in Paris.  They have learned to cook from their mother, who spices her food with gold, which is a metaphor for the rich life and culture with which she was endowed before leaving Morocco.  The story also includes Zohara's teenage grand-daughter and the special relationship between the two.

Azoulai-Hasfari explains that the film is about her double identity which grapples with two worlds -- the traditional world and the modern world.  Why do I make these films, she asks?  It's a way of coming to terms with my identity.  In both films, Azoulai-Hasfari plays the role of the outsider, but she doesn't necessarily see herself as an outsider, rather, she sees this world as central to who she is.

Orange People is an uplifting film, produced by GreenProductions

No comments: