We had the opportunity to attend the Tribeca Film Festival. This year there were several films focusing on Jewish topics.
Love During Wartime. Unable to live together in their countries of birth, Israeli-Jewish Jasmin and Palestinian-Muslim Osama look hopefully toward a future in Germany together. As the pettiness of bureaucracy begins to seep into their seemingly impermeable bond, both turn to their crafts as platforms for expression and catharsis. Their use of art—she’s a dancer, he’s a sculptor—to voice the mutual desire and determination to overcome persecution is nothing short of inspirational. Unlike their Shakespearean counterparts, Jasmin and Osama’s strong will and faith help them sidestep tragedy time after time. Determined to transcend the boundaries of prejudice, they valiantly fight against everything and everyone (sometimes including each other) to find metaphorical and literal neutral ground.
Love During Wartime peers into the lives of a real-life Romeo and Juliet as they struggle to find a place where they can succeed as not only a couple, but as individuals. Gabriella Bier’s expertly edited, verité-style visual commentary uncannily communicates the unspoken anxieties of relationships against the tumultuous backdrop of war, painting a lovers’ tableau that simultaneously feels foreign and familiar to anyone who has been half of a pair.
Storm Up the Sky Loosely based on the story of Cain and Abel, Storm Up The Sky is the story of a Hasidic Jewish family trying to live a traditionally pious life in the modern, assimilated world. It explores themes of individuality, religion, and family. Centered on the two eldest sons of a strict Hasidic patriarch, this film explores how each of these siblings responds to their father’s imposing system of beliefs.
Rabies is a psychotic serial killer on the loose in the woods crosses paths with a group of unsuspecting teenagers, and soon people are dying one by one. It’s a popular horror premise, but mobilized in a refreshingly novel iteration by first-time filmmakers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Among a brother and sister with a dark secret, a kindly forest ranger and his old dog, and four tennis players waylaid by a pair of unhinged local cops, misunderstandings and fear pull Rabies’ protagonists inexorably deeper into the infectious, indiscriminate violence foreshadowed in the film’s title.
Subverting genre conventions with a smart script and plenty of unexpected scares, Rabies’ careful escalation draws viewers and protagonists alike convincingly into the film’s snowballing cycles of violence and fear, grounding its grisly content and high-concept premise in an uncommonly believable world rarely seen within the horror formula. Rabies is a surprising debut starring some of Israel’s biggest young actors, and worthy of its mantle as Israel’s first-ever horror film.