Tag : film

July 15, 2014 by

Much More Than An Israeli “Private Benjamin”

Zero Motivation film

Zero Motivation film

“Zero Motivation” is a new and delightfully poignant Israeli film that zings myths of women’s equal participation in the Israeli army, with frank humor and staple guns to battle the military’s bureaucracy and sexism.

Inspired by her own experiences with other women relegated to boring assignments in administrative offices for their mandatory two-year army service, writer/director Talya Lavie’s debut premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, where it garnered two awards. “We believe a new, powerful, voice has emerged,” crowed the jury for the competitive Best Narrative Feature award. The jury for the second annual Nora Ephron Prize for a female director or screenwriter, which included Delia Ephron, offered similar acclaim, stating that “Zero Motivation” was “definitely the most hilarious film we saw at the festival…the winning film is a fresh, original, and heartfelt comedy.” But this isn’t just an Israeli version of “Private Benjamin”; this film is far more darkly pointed and complex.

The film follows one year in the life of soldier-secretaries in the human resources office at a desert base in the south of Israel in 2004, a year marked by rapid changes in technology and gender relations. The narrative unfolds in three chapters. The first expands on Lavie’s 2005 20-minute film-school thesis, “The Substitute” (available online with an English transcript), focusing on the naïve schemes of Daffi (Nelly Tagar), who hails from a northern town, to find a replacement so she can transfer to Tel Aviv. Part 2, “The Virgin,” focuses on Daffi’s best friend, Zohar (Dana Ivgy, a renowned young film star), for whom “anything is better than the kibbutz”—even a forlorn desert outpost. As the titular virgin, Zohar is enticed by the unfamiliar presence of men she wasn’t raised with, and begins to take sexual risks. When she is briefly liberated from paperwork, her first assignment on guard duty becomes a vengefully comedic moment that involves humiliating male nudity at the point of a gun. By Part 3 Daffi has become “The Officer,” to the frustration of their ambitious, perpetually thwarted supervisor Rama (Shani Klein), who wants to make her pioneer soldier mother proud, despite the rebellious women serving under her and the condescending men over her.

Lavie deftly balances comedy with deadly serious issues. She sensitively portrays an array of women from diverse social strata, including an immigrant from Russia and one from Ethiopia. Focusing the lens tightly on young female soldiers, she reveals the ways in which these women are at once fully developed adults and game-playing teenagers. Mean girl cliques, eating disorders, text-messaging miscommunications, boyfriend troubles and suicide loom larger than any external enemy. Opening first in Israel, Canada, and Australia, Zeitgeist Films will put this must-see for Jewish feminists in theaters across the U.S. later this year. Don’t miss it.

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April 3, 2014 by

Capturing the Elderly Visiting Each Other

“Oma & Bella” is the indie film Alexa Karolinski (in bottom photo, below) made about her grandmother and her grandmother’s friend —two Holocaust survivors in their 80s —who live together in Berlin. They cook, talk about food, entertain friends and family, play cards and remember their parents, their losses and their coming to life again after the Holocaust, when they felt a need to get dressed up and party to make up for a youth they never experienced. Bella (left, in the images below) moved in with Regina (the Oma, or grandma, of the filmmaker) to help her recover from surgery, and just stayed. The pair are the envy of their elderly friends for hav- ing found this comfy solution to loneliness. (75 minutes, in German with English subtitles. omabella.com)

LILSp14 elderly visiting each other 4

 LILSp14 elderly visiting each other 3

LILSp14_elderly visiting each other 1

LILSp14 elderly visiting each other 2

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Feminists In Focus, Live from the Lilith Blog

February 12, 2014 by

Meet on Screen the First Woman Rabbi

via filmlinc.com

via filmlinc.com

How do you make a documentary about Regina Jonas, the world’s first woman rabbi, when only one photograph survives?

It helps if you’re pushed to do the deed by Elsa Klapheck, the contemporary German rabbi whose book, Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas: The Story of the First Woman Rabbi, is the definitive source on this extraordinary woman, born in Berlin in 1902 and ordained in 1935. (The book has been translated into English by Lilith contributor Toby Axelrod. Klapheck, ordained in Frankfurt, is the first woman rabbi in the Netherlands.)

“Regina” — Diana Groó calls her film “a poetic documentary” of Regina Jonas — made its U.S. premiere in January at the 23rd NY Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum. The 63-minute film is in English. 

Groó, 40, who seems either doomed or destined to be identified as a Jewish Hungarian filmmaker, stayed true to the hundreds of documents Regina Jonas managed to save for posterity. The poetry comes with the archival footage – going back to 1900s Berlin — combined with music and voices. British actress Rachel Weisz is the voice of Regina Jonas. Others giving life to archival material include Groó’s grandmother, 86, the same age as Jonas’s students would have been, and a survivor of four concentration camps. 

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