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March 18 - 22, 2006

Women on the Verge: French-Israeli Films

Over the past few years, many of the most critically-acclaimed films to come out of Israel were made possible through collaborations with French production companies.  Of these films, a thematic consistency has emerged that considers the struggles of modern women in patriarchal societies. 

This program is co-presented with the Israeli Consulate of Boston, French Cultural Services, and the Boston Jewish Film Festival.


March 18 (Saturday) 7 pm

Avanim

Directed by Raphael Nadjari
France/Israel 2004, color, 106 min.
With Assi Levy, Uri Gavriel, Danny Steg
Hebrew with English subtitles

Michale (Levi) is a young woman working as an accountant at her father’s firm in Tel Aviv, where she is encouraged to engage morally questionable business practices in order to help an important religious institution secure funding for a new school.  Outside of work, she balances her obligations as a wife and mother with clandestine meetings with her lover.  When an unexpected tragedy occurs, Michale is forced to reevaluate her work and home life, and to question her treatment as a woman in her male-dominated community.  

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March 18 (Saturday) 9 pm

Kadosh

Directed by Amos Gitai
Israel/France 1999, color, 110 min.
With Yaël Abecassis, Yoram Hattab, Meital Barda
Hebrew with English subtitles

In Mea Shearim, an area of Jerusalem populated by Hasidic Jews, the lives of sisters Rivka (Abecassis) and Malka (Barda) are strictly regulated according to tradition. Rivka and her husband Meir (Hattab) have a loving marriage, but they are childless. Because of societal pressures to have a son, Meir divorces Rivka and marries a younger woman with the hope that she will bear him children.  Meanwhile, Rivka’s younger sister Malka is in love with a singer who lives outside the Hasidic community, but a relationship between the two is forbidden because of his secular lifestyle.  Instead, Malka’s parents force her into an arranged marriage to a religious but cruel man. Kadosh effectively narrates the tragic circumstances of two women living in a society where their desires are subordinated to those of men.

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March 19 (Sunday) 7 pm

Syrian Bride

NostalghiaDirected by Eran Riklis
France/Germany/Israel 2004, color, 98 min.
With Hiam Abbass, Makram J. Khoury, Clara Khoury
Arabic, English, Hebrew, Russian, French with English subtitles

In the Israeli-occupied Druze township of Golan Heights, Mona (Khoury) is spending time with her large extended family on the night before her arranged marriage to a Syrian television star. By law, once Mona leaves for Syria she can never return to Israel again. As her friends and relatives come to say their final good-byes, the gathering becomes a forum for the revisiting of old problems and the revival of old grudges.  Though The Syrian Bride can be read as an allegory for Israeli-Palestinian relations, its combination of tragedy and humor humanizes the problems caused by political unrest in the Middle East.

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March 19 (Sunday) 9 pm

Late Marriage

Directed by Dover Koshashvili
Israel/France 2001, color, 102 min.
With Lior Ashkenazi, Ronit Elkabetz, Moni Moshonov
Hebrew with English subtitles

Zaza (Ashkenazi) is a good-looking and intelligent Israeli man in his thirties, but despite his family’s wishes he is still a bachelor.  His relatives, holding fast to the traditions of their Georgian Jewish heritage, try to arrange a marriage for him by setting him up with a series of eligible young virgins.  Zaza, however, is secretly in love with Judith (Elkabetz), an opinionated divorcee with a young daughter.  As Zaza struggles to decide between tradition and love, Late Marriage manages to become comic, emotional, and erotic all at once, while constantly maintaining respect for both sides of the debate. 

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March 22 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

Or (My Treasure )

Directed by Keren Yedaya
France/Israel 2004, color, 100 min.
With Ronit Elkabetz, Dana Ivgy, Meshar Cohen
Hebrew with English subtitles

Or (Ivgy) is a beautiful and intelligent teenage girl who lives with her aging ex-prostitute mother Ruthie (Ronit) in a small apartment in Tel Aviv.   As Or keeps house, goes to school, and takes a job washing dishes, she also tries to prevent Ruthie from leaving the apartment and going back to her old profession.  Ultimately, Or’s determination to act as her mother’s caretaker leads her to a seemingly inevitable fate.  The lack of music and use of a stationary camera underline the film’s raw subject matter, and give Or and Ruthie’s desperation a realistic feel. 

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