Seret, meaning ‘film’ in Hebrew, will introduce a British audience to the colourful and complicated make up of Israeli society, covering a fascinating range of topics from the darkness of incest, the demands of military life, the quest for lost love, poetic genius, racism and disabled dating. Here is a look at some of the much-anticipated films to be screened in the next ten days.
Apples from the Desert
A winner of multiple awards, Apples From The Desert by Arik Lubetzky and Matti Harari is based the true story of Israeli writer Savyon Leibrecht. It stars Moran Rosenblatt as Rebecca, a young woman from an ultra-orthodox family who tries to escape her sheltered background and taste the ‘forbidden fruits’ of secular life. After secretly attending a dance class, she meets Dooby and joins him at a desert Kibbutz where her eyes are opened to an alternative existence. The film examines the inner battle between desire and restraint as well as the diametric sides to Israeli society.
The Kindergarten Teacher
The Kindergarten Teacher by director Nadav Lapid is regarded as ‘the most important film to have been made in Israel in 2014’. This haunting film tells the story of a kindergarten teacher and poet who becomes obsessed with a five-year-old pupil with an extraordinary talent. The child is able to create poems verbally and spontaneously and Nira, his teacher, is intent on nurturing this prodigy at whatever cost. Lapid uses the story to highlight the way society sanctifies profit and materialism and disregards sensitivity and that which is not ‘useful’. The Kindergarten Teacher is a must see; Morgan Kopee, founder of Replica cinema magazine, and Michel Ciment, a leading French journalist, included it among the top films of 2014.
Beneath the Helmet
Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front is an inspiring and humbling documentary by Wayne Kopping. It provides an insight into the Israel Defence Force as it follows the experiences of five young soldiers. This touching film reveals their hopes and fears, exposing the challenges of joining the military at an age when most adolescents are living a carefree life. It is a coming of age story and a journey of self-discovery for the young recruits as they leave their homes, families and friends.
Is That You?
For a light-hearted romantic comedy Is That You?, directed by Dani Menken, is a poignant film on the theme of regret. After being fired from his job, Ronnie, a 60-year-old Israeli film projectionist, begins a search for his first love, Rachel, now living in the States. He embarks on a journey with a young film maker who offers to help Ronnie if she can interview him for her documentary about regrets. Comic episodes abound as the mismatched pair experience the challenges and tribulations of an American road trip. Ronnie, played by Alon Abouboul delivers a subtle and beautiful performance as a man burdened by regret but driven by hope and young love. The film received an ‘Ophir’, the Israeli Oscar and was lauded by audiences and critics alike.
Self Made, by Shira Geffen, is an identity swap black comedy with a Kafkaesque story. Through a mix-up at a border checkpoint, an Israeli performance artist trades places with a Palestinian factory worker. This all begins when Michal, living in Jerusalem, bumps her head one morning after her bed collapses from a missing screw. Her amnesia creates curiosity for the audience as she tries to find out who and where she is. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Nadine is a young Arab woman and works at the same factory where Michal orders a replacement bed. As the characters develop on screen, Geffen tries to teach us how an individual’s appearance is just a façade. Even the young female checkpoint soldier is revealed to have a softer side despite her false machismo. This surreal film is visually arresting and everything, from the clothes to the furniture is in a calming, contemporary blue with the odd splash of yellow.