I went to a children's movie yesterday at a local movie theater and I enjoyed the "coming attractions" for upcoming children's films -- Steven Spielberg's animated The BFG (The Big Friendly Giant), an animation by the team that made Shrek, and more.
But most important, I loved the values and messages of the film that I saw, Abulele by Yoni Geva. It's about the importance of bravery, friendship and standing up for what you believe.
This is a film filled with tension about a 10-year-old boy named Adam who lives in Givat Massua, a neighborhood in western Jerusalem. Adam lost his big brother in a car accident a year ago and is carrying around a burden of guilt. His loneliness, together with his capacity for facing his fears, lead him to be capable of believing in a large furry monster as his closest friend. Most others cannot see the monster and if they do they are terrified of him. His neighbor, a girl from his class, however, is also particularly vulnerable -- and so she can see and appreciate the monster and they band together to fight to protect him.
Adam learns from the Arab janitor in his school (played by Makram Khoury) about Abulele, ancient monsters of the night who come out to scare little children. This is the monster who will come and get you if you're not a good little boy or girl. But Adam eventually discovers that the monster who is certainly big and scary can also be warm and fuzzy.
This is a fantasy film for children, but it's also about bereavement, divorce, bullying, and loneliness. It's a film in which the viewer definitely believes in the existence of the monster, and doesn't understand why everyone doubts it. I love the way the monster begins to help Adam with his problems -- by bullying the bullies, and by getting "even" with the overly zealous and somewhat cruel civics teacher.
This is also a good guy/bad guy story with a SWAT team (Israeli security forces) which is supposed to be fighting the forces of evil, but here they are hunting Adam's Abulele. So, who turns out to be more scary and dangerous -- your warm and fuzzy monster or the local SWAT team? And don't be surprised that you will find yourself rooting for the warm and fuzzy monster!
Watch the trailer on youtube (Hebrew only).
Abulele, the first film by filmmaker Yoni Geva, is available from United King Films.