Opening in theatres this Friday from director Yuval Adler and Entre Chien et Loup comes a different story about the little town of BETHLEHEM.
This film tells the story of two people from opposites sides. First there is Razi Tsahi Halevi) who is with the Israeli Secret Service and Sanfur (Shadi Mar’i), a young man from Palestine.
Razi looks for terrorists to stop them at every turn. His recent target is a man named Ibrahim (Hishman Suliman) who is responsible for bombings and inciting people to kill. This is how Razi meets Sanfur and over a two year period has come to care about the young man almost to the point of angering his superiors.
When Ibrahim is killed in a raid, Sanfur becomes angry. He wants to believe in his brother and his people and at the same time help Razi. The leaders of the different factions begin pulling away from anyone dealing in terrorism.
That’s when the dead leaders second-in-command Badawi (Hitham Omari) takes over. He is also angry and wants revenge for his friend and leaders death. He pulls Sanfur into the ranks but not for the reasons the young man expects.
With his anger pulls him on both sides – it is in one moment that Sanfur decides his fate.
FINAL WORD: Halevi as Razi plays a role that is so dual in nature and not all for the good. Wanting to be good at his job it is clear that boundaries are crossed as in the case of his character befriending Sanfur. It is equally clear that he cares about what happens to the young boy, more so than those in charge. Halevi shows such deep emotion and that brought me into his story.
Mar’i as the young Sanfur is such an angry young man. Living in a world of destruction and hostility, his anger is understandable. He also has a dual nature in that Sanfur loves his family and brother wanting to do what’s best for them but at the same time, finding the friendship with Razi to be comforting.
Omari as Badawi, in my opinion, uses the death of Ibrahim to further his own chances of being a leader in the worst way. Following closely behind is Nasser (George Iskandar) who harbors nothing but intense hostility for Sanfur and will do anything to get rid of him.
Other cast include: Michal Shtamler as Einat, Yossi Eini as Levy, Dudu Niv as Shefler, Ibrahim Saqallah as Tayson, Karem Shakur as Abu Mussa, Efrat Shnap as Maya, and Tarik Kopty as Abu Ibrahim.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give BETHLEHEM three tubs of popcorn out of five. The story is angry and sad in a situation where no one wins. Flipping from one side to the other gives the viewer an opportunity to witness the politics and issues that are still being lived today.
There are moments where the camera shows the amazing beauty of Bethlehem from a distance and in an instant it all turns ugly. The cast works so well together that by the end of the film I was devastated. Director Adler manages to put that all together and make it look seamless.
The film has won awards from the Israeli Film Academy for Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Casting and Editing. It also received nominations for Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Art Direction, Sound and Music. The film was nominated by the Satellite Awards for Best Motion Picture and won the Fedeora Award from the Venice Film Festival for Best Film – Yuval Adler.
In the end – when you are playing both sides, who do you trust?