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Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema 2007
by Richard Knight, Jr.
2007-10-17

This article shared 3978 times since Wed Oct 17, 2007
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The slate of the 2007 Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema ( CFIC ) , the largest showcase of Israeli films in the Midwest, features a trio of LGBT-themed movies—Things Behind the Sun, Tied Hands and Paper Dolls—amongst its line-up. In addition to the gay-themed titles, the fest offers a diverse range of features, documentaries and kid-friendly movies in Hebrew ( all with English subtitles ) . The fest runs from Oct. 18-28 at AMC Loews Piper's Alley 4, 1608 N. Wells, the first weekend and at the Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central, Wilmette, on Oct. 22-28. A smattering of noted Israeli actors and filmmakers will introduce their movies and conduct Q&As with audiences.

The first of the three LGBT-themed movies is Things Behind the Sun, a relationship drama that centers on Itzhak, a reserved, emotionally frozen man whose estranged father is in a coma and dying. Itzhak is distressed to find that his immediate family has larger concerns—his wife, a suppressed artist, is in the midst of finding success at last; and his 30-year-old son, who is living at home, is a 'philosopher' who can't be bothered. But, secretly, his 10-year-old daughter Didush, who is almost invisible within the family dynamic, has been secretly visiting the grandfather. Itzhak's other child—and here's where the LGBT interest comes in—is a tormented lesbian who hasn't had contact with her family because of her orientation. A highly emotional and rather familiar portrait of family dysfunction ensues in which old family secrets are revealed. The movie screens Sat., Oct. 20, at 9:30 p.m. at Piper's Alley and Mon., Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wilmette Theatre.

An offbeat documentary Paper Dolls, follows on Sun., Oct. 21, with a screening at 9 p.m. at Piper's Alley and Mon., Oct. 22 and 8:30 ( directly following Things Behind the Sun ) at the Wilmette Theatre. The film focuses on Filipino transvestites who have illegally immigrated to Israel to be caregivers for elderly orthodox Jewish men. The jobs allow the Filipinos to earn money to send home—which is ironic, as many have been kicked out their homes for being transgender. On their rare day off, they gather and perform in drag at a club in Tel Aviv as 'The Paper Dolls.' The juxtaposition of the two worlds is so rich with possibilities that the young filmmaker, Tomer Heymann, doesn't need to do much more than point the camera at his subjects and shoot. But Heymann suffers from the Michael Moore-like 'look at me' disease and insists on injecting himself into the film. He goes so far as to arrange an audition for the clearly amateurish troupe with a big-time nightclub promoter and the naïve gals, thinking their big break has come, are subjected instead to ridicule and scorn. It's clear that Heymann cares deeply about his subjects, but after this episode his objectivity is clearly compromised and from that point on the film, which contains many dramatic reversals, is watered down each time he appears on camera. The paper dolls, on the other hand, with their sweet dignity, sass and insistence on being true to their inner selves, are entrancing from beginning to end. Heymann will be present to introduce the screenings and participate in a Q&A with audience members after the showing.

The final LGBT-themed entry is Tied Hands, from director Dan Wolman. Gila Almagor plays the mother and reluctant caregiver of her son ( Ido Tadmor ) , a ballet dancer who is dying of AIDS. To help ease the son's desperate pain, the mother heads out into Tel Aviv's nightlife to try and find marijuana. Through a series of dramatic twists, the mother comes to know about the son she has neglected for years and makes peace with him at last. The mother's search for the pot is melodramatic and unbelievable for long stretches, to say the least, but Wolman's film has poetic and wistful moments nonetheless—especially when the son flashes back in his memory to a sensual and highly artistic stage performance that found him at the peak of his artistry. Given the episodic script, Almagor's performance is nicely understated, although it is Tadmor's that resonated with me. Wolman will be present for the screening of the movie on Tues., Oct. 23, at 8:30 p.m. at Wilmette Theatre.

Complete information on the festival is available at www.chicagofestivalofisraelcinema.org or 847-675-3378.


This article shared 3978 times since Wed Oct 17, 2007
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