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Synonyms poster

Synonyms

Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlinale, the latest from Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher) features a dynamic lead performance from newcomer Tom Mercier, whose feral intensity practically bursts out of the frame. Mercier plays Yoav, a disaffected young Israeli who flees Tel Aviv for Paris to start a new life. Desperate to erase his origins, Yoav sees becoming French as his only hope for salvation. Step one is to replace his language. From now on, he will not utter a single word of Hebrew and his dictionary becomes his constant companion. His work at the Israeli embassy is a burden, but studying for his naturalization test also has its pitfalls. And the young French couple he befriends has some rather strange ideas about how to help him. Based on writer-director Nadav Lapid’s own experiences, Synonyms explores the challenges of putting down roots in a new place. Yoav’s attempts to find himself awaken past demons and open up an existential abyss in this tragicomic puzzle that wisely knows how to keep its secrets.

A Borrowed Identity poster

A Borrowed Identity

Based on the books of Sayed Kashua. Eyad, who grew up in an Arab town in Israel, is given the chance to go to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem. He desperately tries to fit in with his schoolmates and is isolated until Jewish classmate Naomi befriends him. Eyad’s other lifeline is Yonatan (Michael Moshonov), whom Eyad is assigned to help with schoolwork. Both are “misfits”: one in a wheelchair, the other an Arab. Through love, friendship, tradition, and conflict, Eyad struggles to find his identity.

Paris-Manhattan poster

Paris-Manhattan

Alice is a Parisian pharmacist who has a fixation on Woody Allen and his films. She has a huge portrait of him hanging in her bedroom, with which she tends to converse, seeking his wise counsel about life. She even hands out DVDs of his films to her customers as medicine for their ailments. Her parents have a sense of urgency for her to find a man, but none can match Woody Allen, not even the alarm specialist Victor who services the pharmacy. But there is one thing a man could do to impress her – introduce her to Woody Allen.

A House in Jerusalem

Can a house be a metaphor for Arab-Jewish relations in Israel? Amos Gitai returns to the house in West Jerusalery?m he profiled in 1980. He interviews members of the Jewish families who live there, and he talks with the Arab family who lived in the house until 1948. They are now in East Jerusalem and pay a nearly furtive visit to the street in front of their old house. Gitai also interviews Palestinian laborers at work on renovations and excavating an old tunnel to the Holy Mount. What do people think of each other, what do they think of Israel, what do they think of co-existence? Do the current residents know the house’s history?

Almost Normal

Shai was born exactly ten years after the death of Itzhak, the first husband of his mother. Itzhak is not Shai’s father; he never even met him. Nevertheless, every year, instead of celebrating his birthday, Shai has to go to the cemetery with his family and celebrate Itzhak’s death . This year, Shai is going to turn 12 and he decided it will be different. He will do everything the can to feel, for once, normal.

Zion and His Brother

In a gritty neighborhood in Haifa, Israel, when cascading events drive an alienating wedge between inseparable brothers, their fierce loyalty is shaken and their interdependence fractured. First-time filmmaker Eran Merav’s Zion and His Brother delivers sensitive insight into the dynamic of close siblings and the adolescent struggle to differentiate oneself from one’s family. With an absent father and a single mother consumed with paying bills and satisfying her boyfriend, tough, smoldering Meir has taken it upon himself to protect his gentle younger brother, Zion. He wheels Zion on his bike and holds his hand at the dentist; and when Zion reports that a schoolmate has stolen his coveted soccer sneakers, Meir handles the problem. But the reprisal spins out of control, and soon Zion understands he’s complicit in a secret only he and Meir share. This terrible pressure and Meir’s clashes with their mother’s boyfriend propel Zion to risk his fraternal allegiance—and sense of security—for a survival mode of his own.In this sensual, almost classical, coming-of-age drama, brought to life with powerful immediacy by Reuven Badalov, Ofer Hayoun, and the always-mesmerizing Ronit Elkabetz (The Band’s Visit), Merav tenderly renders nuanced, layered characters in complex circumstances and sustains exquisite narrative tension, where a lesser storyteller would settle for obvious resolutions. The result is quietly devastating.

A Man Without a Cellphone

In a Palestinian-Israeli village, the life of a teenager is complicated: no privacy, no higher education, no beer, and hardly any girls. When a cellular antenna is put up in the middle of the village, everything turns into a whirlpool.

A Beautiful Valley

Hanna Mendelssohn, an eighty-year-old widow, is a proud member of the kibbutz she helped found. She believes strongly in the values of social equality and cooperation upon which the kibbutz was created. Her world disintegrates as the privatization of the kibbutz forces her into retirement, and after years of devotion and hard work, she finds herself useless. In addition, she has to watch the kibbutz turn into a community in which everyone is concerned for his or her own wellbeing. She strives to continue to live her life as she used to, but reality slaps her in the face over and over again. When all her hopes are diminished, she realizes that friendship still exists in the kibbutz and though things will never be the same, something new can flourish.

The Gatekeepers

Since 1967 Israel has tried to transform its incredible military victory into a bridge to peace. It failed. Forty years and two peace treaties later an atmosphere of fear and mistrust still permeates the region. In this film, the five former heads of Israel’s Secret Service exclusively reflect on their successes and failures to maintain security, even while violence flares up again, this time in the Gaza Strip. These five men individually and as a group have come to reconsider their hard-line positions and advocate a conciliatory approach toward their enemies based on a two-state solution.