The Big Lebowski, The Dude 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax... to a Jerusalem bowling alley. That’s the timeline that local fans of the 1998 cult classic film The Big Lebowski can relate to.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 film portraying the misadventures of an underachieving, laid-back deadbeat called “Dude” portrayed by Jeff Bridges and his motley crew of quirky friends will be celebrated at the country’s first Lebowksi Fest slated to take place on June 16 in Jerusalem, naturally at a bowling alley – the Lev Talpiot mall’s bowling center.
The event’s organizer, Jerusalem musician Eliyahu Sidikman, doesn’t claim to have invented the idea – it’s a tradition that began in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2002 by four Lebowski nerds.
Their goal? To hobnob with fellow “Achievers” as they are called, spout their favorite lines from the film, dress as their beloved characters, drink white Russians – the Dude’s drink of choice – spend time bowling (the preferred activity of most of the movie’s characters) and generally celebrate all things Lebowski, preferably in a bathrobe, like the Dude.
The Lebowski Fests have become an annual event and branched out around the world and, according to Sidikman, the time is ripe for Israel to abide by the Dude.
“I know so many people in this country that are Lebowski freaks, that I knew it would have great appeal,” says Sidikman. “It’s never been done here before, and people love to have a good time. The response has been terrific.”
While the event will feature the same attractions as the official Lebowski Fests in the US, the Jerusalem fest is an independent undertaking. The NIS 60 admission fee includes a screening of the movie, a live band doing the hits of the Dude’s favorite band Creedence Clearwater Revival, a white Russian and a costume and trivia contests. An extra NIS 30 enters party-goers in the bowling tournament.
“We contacted the people who put on the Lebowski Fests in the US and asked if they wanted to get on board, even to the extent of posting it on their site, but they said they didn’t want to associate with something that they didn’t have responsibility for on the ground,” says Sidikman. “I don’t know, I find that very ‘un-Dude.’ It’s amazing how all these anti-establishment forces become very establishment once they have their own thing going.”
In a nod to John Goodman’s hilarious portrayal of the gun-toting, Shabbat observant Walter, which gives a high profile in the film to Jewish tradition, Sidikman says there will be a few elements to the evening that set it apart from other Lebowski Fests.
“Well, first of all, we’re not doing it on Shabbes,” he says, referring to Walter’s profanely emphatic allegiances to his adopted faith, which prevents him from bowling on the Sabbath.
“We’re also going to have Israeli director Alon Gur-Aryeh introduce the film. And we’ve invited [Cinematheque founder] Lia Van Leer to say a few words. She pioneered the film here before anyone knew about it. Its Israel debut was at the 1998 Jerusalem Film Festival at the Sultan’s Pool. It was a bold move. and she deserves a lot of credit for making the Israeli public aware of the film,” he says.
Since there’s a limited amount of time at the Lebowski Fest, a number of simultaneous events will be taking place beginning at 8 p.m. The bowling tournament will coincide with the screening of the film, and then at 10 p.m.
“People aren’t really coming to see the movie; they’ve already seen it so many times,” says Sidikman, who adds that following the screening and the tournament, everyone will come together for the band and the costume contest and other revelry.
The Dude would be proud. June 16 at the Lev Talpiot mall’s bowling center in Jerusalem