7.9/10
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Live and Become (2005)

Va, vis et deviens (original title)
Unrated | | Drama | 1 February 2008 (USA)
In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his ... See full summary »

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12 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Yael
...
Yoram
Moshe Agazai ...
Schlomo enfant
Moshe Abebe ...
Schlomo adolescent
Sirak M. Sabahat ...
Schlomo adulte
Yitzhak Edgar ...
Le Qès Amara
Roni Hadar ...
Sara
...
Papy
Mimi Abonesh Kebede ...
Hana - la mère Juive Ethiopienne
Meskie Shibru Sivan ...
La mère de Schlomo
...
Suzy
Yosi Alfi ...
Rabbin Talmud Tora (as Yossi Alfi)
...
Directeur internat (as Shmil Ben-Ari)
...
Le policier
Shai Fredo ...
Le traducteur
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Storyline

In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his place and with his name (Schlomo) she takes a Christian 9-year-old boy. Upon arrival this second mother dies. Schlomo is adopted by a good family but remains depressed until he secretly sends a letter to his real mother. From the beginning he experiences large and small racist difficulties. In his teens he and Sarah fall in love. Her father is an extreme racist. Schlomo tries to gain "real Jewishness" by winning a competition in Bible interpretation. No change of Sarah's father's attitude. Disappointed he goes to the police and reports himself as not being a Jew. But the police officer just gives him a scolding. "The newspapers are full of that stuff, the Falashas are no Jews. Now they begin to believe it themselves." His adoptive parents send him to France to study medicine. When he afterwards marries ... Written by Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jew | love | israel | letter | christian | See All (105) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 February 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Live and Become  »

Filming Locations:

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Narrateur: They had been forgotten on their mountaintops, near Gondar. Yet, since the dawn of time, the Ethiopian Jews, known as the "Falashas", dreamed of returning to their homeland, the Holy Land, Jerusalem. With Israeli and U.S. Aid, a vast program was undertaken from November to January 1985 to transport the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The Falashas were returned and finally recognized as descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Israeli secret service carried out the operation on the sly,...
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User Reviews

 
'Deny thy mother, and refuse thy name...'
3 May 2007 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

The closing night of last year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival turned out to be more than just the screening of a movie. There was drama in the Castro Theater, many in a mostly Jewish audience sobbing audibly in response to the story of an Ethopian child escaping to Israel by pretending to be Jewish. In June 2007, "Live and Become" is being released commercially in the U.S.

Forty-seven-year-old Radu Mihaileanu - Romanian-born, raised in Israel, now a French filmmaker, director of the much-honored "Train of Life" - created a complex, honest, deeply affecting work in "Live and Become" ("Va, vis et deviens"). In the post-Holocaust world of many Jews trying to pass for gentile, Mihaileanu's true and truthful story shows the opposite: a mother's denial of a child as her own, forcing him to adopt a new identity and religion in order to survive - as a Jew, in Israel, escaping the deadly Ethopian famine and war.

Yet another meaningful reference is Imre Gyöngyössy's 1983 "The Revolt of Job" ("Jób lázadása"), about a Hungarian Jewish peasant couple adopting a Christian child, raising him as a Christian, and refuse to recognize him as their own when they are being taken away, again to assure the child's survival. (The child lived, and grew up to be the writer and director of the film about his own story.) Mihaileanu's film is based on true events. In 1985, the Mossad supervised an amazing drive, "Operation Moses," the airlift of thousands of Falasha, Ethiopian Jews, believed to be descendants of Menilek I, the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makeda) and King Solomon. Thousands died on the march to Sudan where the Israeli airlift operated, but even more escaped, arrived in Israel, were accepted by the country - if not without religious and political controversy.

History and politics are just the background to "Live and Become," the title stemming from the heartbreaking command of the boy's mother: go, don't tell anyone who you really are, become a Jew, do not come back.

Three actors play Schlomo (the name given to the boy at the Ellis-Island-like refugee center) at various times of his life. The film's greatest impact is from the child Schlomo (Moshe Agazai), who must learn new customs, a new religion, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French (of his adoptive parents) at the same, forgetting his Amharic. His initial transition from the refugee camp to modern Israel is astonishing, at one unforgettable moment, while taking his first shower, he is trying to stop the water from going down the drain, panicking at the sinful waste.

Mihaileanu is a skilled, powerful moviemaker: he is sticking to the central message, staying with his characters, keeps telling what is the truth for them, but the direction, acting, cinematography are glossy-professional. What makes the film extraordinary - what creates all the crying in the audience - is its honest and effective portrayal of the young refugee's isolation and loneliness, made worse by his belief that his escape is at the cost of his mother's life, in exchange for a lie he feels he must live, even as he becomes an authentic member of Israeli society.

The cast is uniformly outstanding, but Schlomo's adoptive parents are especially memorable. Moroccan-Israeli actress Yael Abecassis' warmth and strength, Moroccan-French actor Roschdy Zem's rough integrity create a true and enviable family environment - but there is nothing easy or false about the young refugee's difficult journey and internal tribulations.


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