Written by Jonathan Sagall
Directed by Jonathan Sagall
Armed with understatement and nuance, director Jonathan Sagall has created in Lipstikka the sort of film that demands a careful viewing and prolonged digestion. I find myself writing this review several days after having seen the film—not out of laziness, but because I required the time to think it over. It’s the type of thing that, once ended, demands to be experienced a second time in order to be properly understood.
Lipstikka is through-and-through an intimate drama. It takes place in London (at the present) and is intercut with flashbacks (to London in the past and Ramallah further in the past). However, the real setting of the film is the emotional landscape between Lara (Clara Khoury, The Syrian Bride) and Inam (Nataly Attiya, Yom Yom), lifelong friends and erstwhile lovers (young Lara and Inam are played by Ziv Weiner and Moran Rosenblatt,
When the director of Nader and Simin, A Separation, the Iranian Asghar Farhadi, was asked what he made of being in the same competition as an Israeli film here at Berlinale, he was noble in sentiment. “Films are very expensive to make” he said, “so I hope they can all win prizes regardless of which country they are from.” Everybody applauded this spirit of cinematic brotherhood and we all felt that a blow had been struck in the name of world peace. It was an emotional time.
Yet had Farhadi the chance to see that rival film, Odem (or Lipstick in English), I’d like to think he’d have been less diplomatic. Odem is without a shadow of a doubt the single worst film I have seen in the official selection. It is one of the worst films I have ever seen in any context in fact,
So, congrats to Victoria and company! I’d even further say that a Berlin debut could be considered more prestigious than a Sundance birth. The competition is stiffer, and your film may get more international exposure. Victoria can count veteran Wim Wenders and Miranda July as some of her competition.
The Coen Brothers’ remake
The movie, due to shoot here in the British capital and on location in Haifa, Israel, details the story of two teenage girls -- one Christian, one Muslim -- who decide to celebrate a birthday by an illicit trip to the cinema and sneak over the divide into West Jerusalem where their paths cross two Israeli soldiers. Years later the two girls come together in London and the layers of remembered events are stripped away revealing vastly different stories that have scarred their lives.
Sagall also produces along with Guy Allon with John Reiss and David Willing taking exec producer roles.
The project is backed by Israel Film Fund, John Reiss & Associates and Monumental Productions. The film is scheduled to be ready for release Spring 2010, the filmmakers said.
NEW YORK -- Using a thin plot pretext to explore the emotional and physical ramifications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Rana's Wedding", now receiving its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Cinema Village, is ultimately more interesting for its sociological than cinematic aspects. The story concerns a 17-year-old girl, Rana (Clara Khoury), who is suddenly handed an ultimatum from her well-heeled businessman father. He is relocating his business from Jerusalem to Egypt, and she has until the end of the day to get married to the suitor of her choice. To help her decide, he provides a handy list of eligible men, none of whom she has actually met.
Rana, needless to say, is not happy at this prospect and instead decides that she will stay in her homeland and marry her boyfriend, Khalil, who is a theatrical director in Ramallah. Unfortunately, she has no idea where Khalil actually is, so she spends the day frantically racing around Jerusalem trying to find him.
Thus, the film provides both an emotional and literal travelogue of the area, delivering a series of vignettes in which Rana comes face to face with various aspects of the conflict, including a tense standoff between Israeli soldiers and rock-throwing Palestinians during which a young boy is killed. At times, her quest achieves absurdist dimensions, as when a plastic bag she has accidentally left behind is blown to smithereens by Israeli soldiers suspecting that it contains a bomb.
While the film, directed by Hany Abu-Assad, provides a vivid portrait of the landscape, its dramatic aspects are less impressive, with the contrived plot and paper-thin characterizations basically serving to provide a framework for its impressionistic portrait. Even in that department, however, the filmmaking comes up short, with far too much of the running time devoted to endless close-ups of the admittedly beautiful lead actress and lengthy sequences depicting her walking up and down hills, streets, etc.
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