"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, October 13, 2014

Manpower by Noam Kaplan

Manpower (directed by Noam Kaplan) is a biting and tough film about four different stories which intersect in South Tel Aviv where thousands of African political refugees and migrant workers live.  This is a film about the difficulties of everyday life, about financial problems, loneliness, about getting along in a society that is not so welcoming, about frustration and despair.  Israeli society doesn't treat these workers well, their status is problematic and the situation is complex.  

There have been many excellent Israeli films about migrant workers, which deal with how they are treated within our society, such as --
The Human Resources Manager (Eran Riklis)
Foreign Sister (Dan Wolman)
James' Journey to Jerusalem (Ra'anan Alexandrowicz)
Noodle (Ayelet Menachemi)
Janem Janem (Haim Bouzaglo)

This film is perhaps less fictionalized than the others and shows the bare reality of living as a foreign worker in Tel Aviv and how the Israeli authorities deal with this sensitive problem.  Loaded with irony, this is a film about belonging, emigration, and uprootedness.
Emigration and loneliness: There is the Jewish cab driver whose son, Philippine daughter-in-law and Israeli-born grandchild have decided to better their lives by emigrating. 

Frustrations: There is the policeman who comes back from a police trip to Buchenwald and is assigned to round up African foreign workers living in Israel.  It's not so easy to raise a family on a cop's salary. 

Uprootedness: There is the Nigerian man with his wife and child, a leader within the African community, who works cleaning houses despite humiliation and fear of deportation.

Belonging: And there is the teenager who works at Aroma, born in Israel to a mother from the Philippines, desperately hoping to join a combat unit  in the IDF in order to fit into Israeli society. 

Manpower portrays the despair and denigration of these families trying to live their lives and of the cops who are themselves victims in so many ways.  You feel for the characters, all of whom are real people living in South Tel Aviv.

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