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Middle Eastern Cinema
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BANOO / THE LADY
Dariush Mehrjui (
The Cow, The Cycle
) directs this claustrophobic film about a woman living a solitary life while her husband is away. Her life turns around when she finds out that her husband is having an affair. Newly liberated, she begins to experience life for the first time. In Farsi with Dariush Mehrjui---Iran---1992---113 mins.
BLOOD AND TEARS
An "unbiased and clear-sighted" (
Wall Street Journal
) documentary that challenges the deep-rooted myths surrounding the violent ideological conflict between Israel and Palestine. The filmmakers tackle both sides by interviewing ministers, mullahs, soldiers, terrorists, ordinary people, zealots, and even a former Israeli prime minister and Hamas leaders.
Isidore Rosmarin---2006---74 mins.
Set in Berlin, 1974, two radicals-turned-actors begin garnering support to fight a new abortion bill. However, their rekindled zeal is complicated by an unexpected pregnancy.
Dariush Mehrjui's bold
not only made it past that country's censors, it was widely shown in Tehran and emerged as one of the year's most popular films, winning six Iranian film awards. A well-to-do Tehran painter (Bita Farrahi), suffering from the seven-year-itch, has an affair with a patron and tells her Western-educated psychiatrist that she wants a divorce and complains bitterly about the Iranian government's treatment of women. Her despondent philosopher husband (Khosro Shakibai), accused of beating his wife, has a breakdown and seeks comfort from his grandmother, and both agree that religion is a fraud. In Farsi with English subtitles.
Dariush Mehrjui---Iran---1989---107 mins.
Set in 1963 Iran, this elegant, award-winning tale is the simple story of an elementary school in a poor village in the middle of the desert. One day, the children discover that the water jar--the sole vessel for their drinking water--is cracked. But getting the jar fixed turns out to be more complicated than one might imagine and it is up to an extraordinary teacher to finally get the job done. With Behzad Khodaveisi and Fatemeh Azrah. In Farsi with English subtitles.
Ebrahim Foruzesh---Iran---1992---100 mins.
Beloved Israeli film actor Zev Revah stars in a screwball comedy about a stuttering bridegroom and a part-time gigolo who flee to a boarding house to escape their female pursuers. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Assi Dayan---Israel---1976---90 mins.
The late Israeli singing sensation Ofra Haza stars in this poetic musical drama. Haza plays a blind orphan girl rescued from the streets by three benevolent hoodlums who attempt to raise money to restore her eyesight. Features five musical numbers performed by Haza. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
George Ovadia---Israel---1979---94 mins.
Winner of six Israeli Academy Awards, this is the bewitching story of Clara, a 7th-grade Russian emigre at Golda Meier High School in a Negrev town, who has telekinetic and psychic powers. If she falls in love, she will lose her ability to predict winning lottery numbers. Things get complicated when she meets an anarchist rebel hunk at school. Based on a script by Czech playwright/novelist Pavel Kohout. "An Israeli film with attitude...
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Village of the Damned
" (J. Hoberman,
). In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Ari Folman/Uri Sivan---Israel---1996---84 mins.
In this poetic feature from one of Iran's greatest directors, a 10-year-old blind boy travels to the market each day, where he works as a musical instrument tuner. The boy's gift for sound extends well beyond this duty, as he hears the music of life all around him. "Makhmalbaf crafts the boy's world as a flip-book of gorgeous, lyrical images...Makhmalbaf sees audiovisual magic as an alloy, which stretches the bounds of the naturalism he is using in the name of a purely sensory experience" (Wesley Morris,
San Francisco Examiner
). In Farsi with English subtitles.
Mohsen Makhmalbaf---Iran---1998---75 mins.
TEL AVIV STORIES
This anthology looks at three Israeli women in various stages of desperation and the strange, comedic twists that their lives take. The first segment, "Sharona Honey," follows a beautiful woman plagued by a quartet of men who want her to bear their children. The second, "Operation Cat," details a recently divorced woman's plight to save a trapped kitten. Finally, in "Divorce," an embittered policewoman takes a number of people hostage to prevent her husband from leaving the country before granting her a divorce. In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Ayellet Menachemi/Nirit Yaron---Israel---1991---95 mins.
UNDER THE DOMIM TREE
Based on the autobiographical memoir by Gila Almagor (
The Summer of Aviya
), this "gentle, loving film about confronting the past" (
Los Angeles Times
) is the poignant and harrowing story of a group of teenagers living in a youth village for orphans who survived the Nazi concentration camps and other troubled Israeli youths in the 1950s. When life becomes unbearable, the teens find refuge under the beautiful Domim Tree, the only place where they feel at peace. "One of the most beautiful movies of the past 20 years, maybe longer" (
). In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Eli Cohen---Israel---1996---102 mins.
WOMEN IN BLACK - PEACE ACTIVIS
This program documents the activities of Women in Black, a multinational organization that holds vigils for peace around the world, focusing on their efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We follow the London branch of Women in Black as they travel to the West Bank to form a human shield around Palestinian civilians. The video also features interviews with members of the Israeli Women in Black, Jewish Israeli women who in 1988 founded the organization to protest their government's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Palestinians struggling to maintain normal family life while surrounded by tanks and snipers, a Jewish settler woman who voices fears for her family, and documents the impact of the recent siege on life in Bethlehem and the harsh realities of everyday life in the Donna Baillie---Great Britain---2002---53 mins.
Set in Tel Aviv during the Gulf War,
depicts a passionate romance that blooms under the threat of missile and gas attacks. A young, pregnant Russian immigrant is abandoned by her husband but finds intimate comfort with an Israeli wedding photographer. Winner of 10 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. In Hebrew and Russian with English subtitles.
Arik Kaplun---Israel---1999---90 mins.
The second film in Amos Gitai's celebrated trilogy (
) about contemporary Israeli cities,
is set in the bustling, ethnically diverse port city of Haifa. Moshe Ivgi (
) stars as a listless young man whose Jewish mother (Hanna Maron) and Arab father (Yussef Abu Warda) are under intense pressure to sell their family bakery to an Israeli developer. When Moshe's father balks at the deal, Moshe is forced to reconcile his mixed ancestry even while his own marriage crumbles. "A darkly comic tale. Gitai's genius is to show the conflict infiltrating every encounter, from the market place to the bedroom" (Leslie Camhi,
The Village Voice
). In Hebrew with English subtitles.
Amos Gitai---Israel---1998---105 mins.
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