"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, July 9, 2018

Close-up and Personal

Driver, directed by Yehonatan Indursky, is a new Israeli feature film about personal tragedy that provides a significant look at life in the ultra-orthodox (haredi) community of B’nei Brak.  This film far surpassed my expectations and I found it to be surprisingly captivating due to the personal and compelling nature of both the genre and the story.

The driver in the film is a man who makes a living by driving needy people around town at night to visit the homes of wealthy Jews in order to ask them for money.  The driver coaches his clients on how to tell their stories so that they will be more compelling to the patrons.  These are people with large families and little income.  There is the father who wants to provide his daughter with a festive wedding but is unable to pay the bills.  There are medical tragedies.  And then there is the story of our driver and his 10-year-old daughter, whose unbelievably tragic story is slowly revealed to us during the course of the film. 

The genre of this film is quite unique – it is actually about story-telling, with many characters, both major and minor, telling the tale of their personal tragedies on-camera, in full close-up.  Although the film is minimalistic in its sets and design, the personal vignettes that make up the stories are powerful and convincing. The characters are compelling and the stories are hard-hitting, forcing the viewer to really care and worry about these people.  

In one particular shot, our driver parks his car by his apartment building.  As he enters the building to climb the stairs, the camera begins to pan upwards in a cherry-picker shot, covering the entire height of the building and then panning over the top of the building to masses and masses of similar apartment buildings in the neighborhood.  This long shot of B’nei Brak provides the viewer with an amazing revelation – in this neighborhood, there are literally dozens if not hundreds of personal stories, similar to the ones that we have been hearing!

Driver is a new feature film from United King Films.

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