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Heads Up: Two of Israel's most exciting directors are finishing their new films and they will be hitting screens soon. Eytan Fox's latest, The Bubble, will be opening in July. I saw about a 10-minute excerpt from the film recently, which is about a group of young people in Tel Aviv, some straight and some gay, who work in and around the fashionable stores on Shenkin Street.
Their comfortable lives in the Tel Aviv "bubble" are disrupted when one of them falls in love with a Palestinian, who comes to lives with them. You can see a very short trailer for the movie at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V2jTVP5cOg . (The trailer shows some nudity.) It's a film that combines both politics and humor, as well as music.
In the excerpt I saw, Ivri Lider, who has provided songs for Fox's other recent films, Yossi & Jagger and Walk on Water, appears as a nightclub singer. Lider has a strong screen presence and maybe Fox will give him a dramatic role in his next film.
We'll have to wait a little longer for Joseph Cedar's next film, Beaufort, but he has completed filming and is now editing it. The film tells the story of the last Israeli unit to guard that crusader castle in Lebanon. The name "Beaufort" has become a symbol of the controversy surrounding the Lebanon War, because the government initially reported that the Beaufort had been conquered without casualties, in spite of the fact that a number of soldiers died in the battle.
In a recent panel before a group of visiting American journalists at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, Cedar described how he had worked with the families of the soldiers to create a screenplay and a film that would be respectful to the deceased soldiers but would create a vivid and realistic portrait of them. He admitted it was not an easy task and also said that the film was more logistically complicated than his earlier movies, Time of Favor (Ha'Hesder) and Campfire.
He addressed two other controversies that have come up since he began shooting the film, confirming that the IDF did cooperate with him on the making of the film and also that none of the lead actors served in the IDF. The IDF drew censure for lending its support to a film that will turn a skeptical eye on the military and Cedar was criticized for using actors who had gotten out of the draft, although Cedar said that this was simply a coincidence and that many young people no longer serve.
He hopes to have the film ready by the fall. Given the quality of Fox's and Cedar's previous work, The Bubble and Beaufort will likely be worth the wait.
TWO RARELY screened pre-state films made in Israel will be shown today at the Jerusalem Cinematheque at 2:30 p.m., accompanied by a talk by Yaakov Gross. "Shivat Zion," directed by Yaakov Ben-Dov, is a 70-minute 1921 documentary that looks at Palestine after the Balfour Declaration and includes footage of Winston Churchill's visit here. It was lost for decades and resurfaced in the Czech Film Archive. Another film by Ben-Dov, the 1928 "Springtime in Eretz Israel," will be shown on this program.
Director Eli Cohen will be on hand at a screening of his documentary, "Fence, Wall, Border . .. " at the Jerusalem Cinematheque at 8:30 p.m. on Monday. The film focuses on the effects of the separation fence.
GIVEN THE WORLDWIDE fascination with the phenomenon of suicide bombers, it's not surprising that there is a new documentary on this subject, The Cult of the Suicide Bomber, which just opened in New York. Made for Britain's Channel 4, it is narrated by Robert Baer, the former CIA operative who was reportedly the model for George Clooney's character in "Syriana." Manohla Dargis, writing in The New York Times, called it "engrossing if intellectually thin." She criticizes the filmmakers for failing to give a detailed historical background, writing that Shi'ite suicide bombers of the 11th and 12th centuries and World War II Japanese kamikaze pilots are not mentioned.
The film's focus is on contemporary Islamic bombers, she says, and Chechen and Tamil suicide bombers are not discussed either. We'll have to wait till the film makes it to Israel to see whether we can learn anything from it.
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