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AKA Nadia

Directed by: Tova Ascher
115 Minutes, 2015, Drama; Other Israel Film Festival

Maya (Netta Shpigelman) is a happily married mother of two. She is a successful choreographer, and everything seems to be perfect, but this life is a lie. Unbeknownst to her family, and everyone around her, she has a hidden past.

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Director: Tova Ascher

Producer: Estee Yacov-Mecklberg

Producer: Haim Mecklberg

Producer: Ruth Cats


Winner The Israeli Film Critics Forum Prize Jerusalem Film Festival

Winner The Micki Moore Award Toronto Jewish Film Festival


“A.K.A. Nadia” (2015 release from Israel) brings the story of a women, whom we get to know as Nadia, a Palestine Arab who as the movie opens we see with her boyfriend Nimmer. He tells her that he’s being transferred to England. In a desperate attempt to remain together, Nadia and Nimmer marry and then move to London. Alas, things go awry and Nadia now is in a desperate attempt to move back. She finds an ex-cop able to ‘get’ papers. When she sees the papers, it is of a Jewish-Israeli girl similar in age. We then are informed “West Jerusalem, Twenty Years Later”, and Nadia is now Maya, happily married with two loving kids, and completely integrated in the Jewish day-to-day life. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the debut of writer-director Tova Asher, and what a debut it is! This theme has been explored before, albeit not in the same context, but the essence of the question is the same: when a person takes on a new identity, whatever the reason, at what point does this person truly become that new identity, if ever? In this case, the film’s lead has been Maya for 20 years now, and was Nadia before that for probably another 20 years, maybe even more. Is she more Maya and Nadia, or the other way around, or is she both? And if so, what does it mean to live like a Jew for 20 years while having grown up as an Arab? The movie explores these themes to great effect, as the story unfolds in the riveting second half of the movie. I am biting my lip, but I shan’t reveal any further…. just watch!

I recently saw this movie at the 2017 Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, and for me it was the best movie of the festival, period. The Wednesday evening screening at my local art-house theater was as good as sold out, and one could tell that the audience was fully absorbed by what was playing out on the big screen. If you get a chance to see this, do not miss it! “A.K.A. Nadia” is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!