hannah brown 88.
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There are more than 350 movies this year at the Toronto International Film Festival, which ends on Saturday night, but Eytan Fox's The Bubble, being shown in the Special Presentations category, has achieved the nearly impossible - it has garnered some serious press attention before it has even been screened.
In an interview with The International Herald Tribune, festival co-director Noah Cowan calls The Bubble "a daring film that comes to a shocking end." On the Canadian Broadcasting Company's Website, Cowan says Fox and his co-writer Gal Uchovsky are "some of the filmmakers I've been nervous and excited to meet." And an Agence France Press story reports on speculation about which films may get multimillion-dollar distribution deals, and names The Bubble as one of a handful in the running. Fox's previous film, Walk on Water, which earned more than $7 million worldwide, is the most profitable Israeli film to date, but it's possible that The Bubble will overtake it.
The Bubble, released in Israel this summer, tells the story of a young Israeli man who works in Tel Aviv's trendy Sheinkin Street and has an affair with a young Arab man, with dramatic consequences.
THE JERUSALEM CINEMATHEQUE has settled comfortably into its new location at Binyanei Ha'uma, and has started a new kind of programming there. In its Derech Hebron location, the movies changed every day in both auditoriums. But here, on one of its two screens, the same film will be shown every night for at least a week (except Fridays). The Tel Aviv Cinematheque has been doing this for years, and it's a good way to ensure that a movie gets the exposure it needs. The movie showing from Saturday-Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. is Deepa Mehta's Water. It's the final installment in her impressive trilogy of films on women in India. The first, Fire (1996), was a contemporary look at two sisters-in-law, ignored by their arrogant husbands, who begin a love affair with each other.
It was a good film, although the next installment, Earth, was far more impressive. It focused on a Parsi family in Lahore, just before and during the civil war of 1947, when India and Pakistan were created. Told through a Parsi girl's eyes, it examined how Muslims and Hindus, who previously had lived peacefully together and even married one another, suddenly became savage enemies. Water goes back to an even earlier period, the Thirties, around the time that Mahatma Gandhi was beginning to lead the struggle against British rule. Set in a residence for impoverished widows in Varanasi, Water examines the fate of these widows at a time when they were forbidden to remarry (except with their brothers-in-law) and were condemned to a life of isolation. It focuses on two very young widows, one of whom breaks with convention and plans to marry the man she loves - a Gandhi follower from a lower caste. Mehta, who stepped out of character to make the comedy Bollywood/Hollywood a couple of years ago, tells tragic stories that are gripping because of the humanity of her characters. She has been living in Toronto for years, although she has never lost sight of her native country.
On Thursday, the program switches and at 9:30 p.m., Udi Aloni's Forgiveness will be shown.
Although not boring in the ordinary sense, Forgiveness, which was shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival, is the kind of insanely pretentious, self-indulgent movie that I had hoped Israeli filmmakers had outgrown. Set in a Jerusalem mental hospital built on the ruins of an Arab village, Forgiveness is about an Israeli soldier, raised in America, who accidentally kills an Arab girl and is hospitalized when he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder. References to ghosts, Auschwitz (most of his fellow inmates are concentration camp survivors who have vivid memories of the Holocaust but appear to be in their mid-fifties) and, of all things, Franz Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption abound. The film is Udi Aloni's first full-length feature, and it does have its moments, particularly those in which the Khourys (Makram Khoury and Clara Khoury who are father and daughter but play unrelated characters) appear.
But it's difficult to overstate the film's smug and whiny pseudo-intellectualism. It's enough to drive a Meretz voter to campaign for Lieberman. If you don't believe me about the pretension level, check out the film's Website at www.forgivenessthemovie.com and read some of Aloni's deep thoughts, such as this one from an essay called, "On the Coming of the Messiah": "In theological-political terms, I would say that the Messiah is the gap between the physical and the metaphysical."
Too bad there won't be another week of Water.