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The Holy Land (2001)

R | | Drama | 2001 (Israel)
Mendy is a young man struggling to keep his mind focused on rabbinical school. His teacher tells him to rid himself of desires by visiting a prostitute in Tel Aviv. Mendy falls head over heels in love with a Russian harlot named Sasha.


Eitan Gorlin


Eitan Gorlin
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Oren Rehany ... Mendy
Tchelet Semel ... Natasha "Sasha" Sonsova
Saul Stein ... Mike
Albert Iluz ... Razi
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 Yehoyachin Friedlander ... Mendy's Father
Lanny Shahaf Lanny Shahaf ... Exterminator's Wife
Lupo Berkowitch ... Daryl (as Lupo Berkowitz)
Aryeh Hasfari Aryeh Hasfari ... Jamal (schoolboy) (as Arie Hassfari)
Harel Noff Harel Noff ... Hobo Priest
Icho Avital ... Bar Patron
Louise Asher 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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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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

User Reviews

Haunted by History -- and "Blue Angel"
6 August 2003 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Holy Land" tells a story as old as the Bible, and in films certainly as old as "The Blue Angel," in a nerd's obsession with a scarlet woman.

The twist is the obsession is at an incendiary intersection, of secular Tel Aviv vs observant Jerusalem, of old-fashioned and religious vs modern and profane Israeli Jews, of American and Russian immigrants with starkly opposite motivations from fanaticism to economic opportunity, of Arabs vs Jews, of intellectuals vs thugs, of terrorists of all kinds of ages and beliefs and tactics vs burned-out drunks.

In a place obsessed with history, each character is trying to lose the individual past that haunts them, and ends up trapped by it. The story is powerful, based on the writer/director Eitan Gorlin's original novella, but is hampered by execution in poor quality technical production with some amateur actors.

It has some similarities to other recent films, being somewhat more sympathetic to the Orthodox lifestyle than the rabidly prejudiced "Kadosh" (here the yeshiva boy's tearful reaction to the casually cruel cutting of his forelocks was really moving), and was like "Lilja 4-ever" in showing how psychically manipulative is the exploitation of former Eastern Bloc women.

It seems that what all the cultures of the Mideast have in common is unbridled lust such that they end up agreeing on "Where is God? He's in your dick."

In the mix of languages even within a single sentence and accents, I appreciated the presence of subtitles whenever it wasn't clear what was being said.

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English | Arabic | Russian | Hebrew

Release Date:

2001 (Israel) See more »

Also Known As:

The Holy Land See more »

Filming Locations:

Tel Aviv, Israel See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,014, 13 July 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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