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The Holy Land (2001)

R | | Drama | 22 April 2001 (USA)
A coming-of-age saga set against the tense backdrop of Arab-Israeli politics. Mendy is a young Rabbinical student whose mind is too full of curiosity about the world that exists outside the... See full summary »



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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Saul Stein ...
Albert Iluz ...
Aryeh Moskona ...
The Exterminator (as Ariel Moskuna)
Alon Dahan ...
Reb Nocham (Mendy's Rabbi)
Mosko Alkalai ...
Professor Milan (as Moscu Alcalay)
Liat Bein ...
Mendy's Mother
Yehoyachin Friedlander ...
Mendy's Father
Lanny Shahaf ...
Exterminator's Wife
Lupo Berkowitch ...
Daryl (as Lupo Berkowitz)
Arie Hassfari ...
Jamal (schoolboy)
Harel Noff ...
Hobo Priest
Icho Avital ...
Bar Patron
Louise Asher ...
Screaming Lady


A coming-of-age saga set against the tense backdrop of Arab-Israeli politics. Mendy is a young Rabbinical student whose mind is too full of curiosity about the world that exists outside the restrictions of Orthodox Judaism. Recognizing his distraction, Mendy's teacher suggests that he visit a prostitute to get it out of his system. But on a fateful night, when he meets Sacha, a captivating Russian expatriate, who works in a Tel Aviv bordello, his appetite for outside experience only grows stronger. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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independent film | See All (1) »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug use | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



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Release Date:

22 April 2001 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,017 (USA) (14 November 2003)


$586,438 (USA) (12 December 2003)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Featured in The 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Occasional intrigue in the performances and atmosphere of life in modern day Jerusalem...
19 August 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...but first time writer/director Eitan Gorlin, adapting from his own play, takes too much for granted in the destinies of his characters, a rabbinical student and a Russian prostitute, as well as for the supporting players. There could be so much that could happen to these characters, so many different turns they could take in their relationship, and while it unfolds as something that's somewhat acceptable, it contains an outcome that's a too pre-ordained.

The set-up has minor promise- a rabbinical student is told by his teacher that he should let off some steam, so to speak, by paying a trip to a whorehouse around in Tel Aviv before completely immersing himself in his studies (to get it out of his system). He meets a prostitute, and a Mike, a drunk who owns a bar in Jerusalem and who also gives a place to live for his girl as, soon enough, as well as for the student. Eventually, the student works as a bartender, meets the locals, the radicals, and sees for himself what it's like in such a landscape. Among this, an amicable, though non-sexual relationship commences with the the two opposites- the student awkward and introspective and the prostitute sarcastic and (when she needs to be) emotional.

I can't say that I hated the Holy Land, because there seemed to be a earnest urgency to show, in good intentions, what it's like in the city against the thinking of Americans of the region. It's dangerous terrain, but it's not like how the media here portrays it exactly. And while our lead character comes of age by drinking and smoking and being among these people and all that, he leaves without much of a change in him, or towards the girl he has admired and adored for the length of the picture. In other words, it may be pretty hard to care about these people as much as Gorlin wants us to, and it's evident that it gets too conventional for its own good (the ending, especially, seems like it has a need for closure that it shouldn't of had). Grade: C

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