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Promised Land (II) (2004)

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"Promised Land" tells the story of a group of young unwitting Estonian girls smuggled through Egypt to be auctioned off as prostitutes in Israel, and of their initiation into this trade of ... See full summary »

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Title: Promised Land (2004)

Promised Land (2004) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Rose
Diana Bespechni ...
Diana
...
Hanna
...
Anne
Alla An ...
Alla
Kristina Likhnyski ...
Kristina
Katya Drabkin ...
Katya
Yussuf Abu-Warda ...
Yussuf
Amos Lavi ...
Hezi
Shalva Ben-Moshe ...
Igor
Craig Bachins ...
Greg
Meital Peretz ...
Meital
Menachem Lang ...
Menahem
Ran Kauchinsky ...
Rani
Peeter Polluveer ...
Peeter
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Storyline

"Promised Land" tells the story of a group of young unwitting Estonian girls smuggled through Egypt to be auctioned off as prostitutes in Israel, and of their initiation into this trade of flesh, and finally of the accidental freeing of one girl who most fight for her freedom. Written by Batsheva

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Genres:

Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

21 October 2004 (Israel)  »

Also Known As:

Promised Land  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Amos Gitai said in an interview that he convinced the cast and crew to literally camp out in the desert where the opening sequences were shot. This began because he was tired of the long daily commute from the location to Tel Aviv, but he believes that the fact that most of them agreed to join him, living in tents without running water for days, added to the gritty realism of these scenes, because the actresses were just as unwashed and uncomfortable as their characters. See more »

Soundtracks

Sahek Ota
Written by Tom Petrover
Performed by Hayehudim
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User Reviews

 
Disappointing, an important story is not told clearly enough
17 October 2004 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

(Some plot spoilers) I saw Amos Gitaï's film 'Promised Land' at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2004 at its 2nd North American screening. The film had just world premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 7, 2004 where it won the Emblem of Peace Award.

Director Gitaï was at the screening and made some brief introductory remarks during which he said that the film was dedicated to his mother who had passed away during the course of the filming and who had been a lifelong advocate for women's issues. He also said that his main goal with this film was to portray an anti-'Pretty Woman' point of view and to show that prostitution was in no way a life of glamour, champagne and limousines and that prostitution images of that nature, whether portrayed in film media or elsewhere, were even used by criminal elements to lure young women into sexual slavery. Due to time limitations there was no Q and A session after the film.

Certainly with that introduction and the knowledge that this theme and script had attracted international talent as diverse as Hanna Schygulla (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lili Marleen, Werckmeister Harmonies), Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita, Sex is Comedy) and Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, The Libertine) to appear in the film, I had very huge expectations. Unfortunately, the film could not fulfill them.

(Spoilers start) The story concerns a group of young Eastern European women who are smuggled across deserts and borders at the beginning of the film and then auctioned off in the middle of the night at an outdoor slave market, although they still stay together throughout the course of the rest of the film. They are finally able to determine that they are in Israel and the title of the film is meant to be taken ironically in their case. They were presumably seeking to escape poverty in their home countries but their fate now is likely to be even more cruel. There is no back story provided except for one character's later flashback about seeing a choir sing in a countryside church back in Estonia and her saying in voice-over that 'Estonia seemed so far away'. It was often difficult to tell the women apart due to the dark lighting of the film (The film was so dark that when the cinema's projector went on the blink about 10 minutes in and started showing only intermittent flashing images, the audience sat and continued to watch for a good half minute or so, thinking it was part of the regular film, until finally a few brave souls started to clap in annoyance. After a short repair, the screening continued.) No character or name introduction was made for most of the women which didn't help the situation. They are just objects to be brutalized and assaulted by the various smugglers and guards during the journey. They end up transported to a restaurant/night club that doubles as a brothel and there they are stripped off and hosed down and then superficially dressed and made-up to attract customers. Hanna Schygulla appears in a cameo as the head madam in charge of this process and Anne Parillaud is a junior madam/gang leader. Again, no background is given about them either (although Schygulla calms one of the young women by making it sound like she herself went through the same tortuous journey at one time). At this point a British woman (played by Rosamund Pike) rather mysteriously appears in the midst of the club and there is some suspense as you wonder whether she is there to help the women as some sort of undercover police agent or whether she is a captive herself. The women are held at night on board a ship in the harbor and it is there where the use of a 'deus ex machina' plot device leads to the resolution. (Spoilers end)

Admittedly, the dehumanizing anonymous treatment that the women receive was probably part of the point in order to convey the cold-hearted brutal nature of the background to prostitution, but it didn't provide the audience with a specific character to identify with for most of the running time and when one of the East European women did finally emerge as the lead in this respect, it seemed like an afterthought and rather too late in the plot.

Overall, this has the feeling of an incomplete effort about a serious subject that really deserved more work and it leaves the impression that the budget and thus the shooting schedule did not allow for more to be done. For comparison, see Lukas Moodysson's 'Lilja 4-ever', which gets a similar story across with much more impact, primarily by focusing on a single young woman.

Disappointing, an important story is not told clearly enough. 5/10


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