Sunday, November 27, 2011



Berenice Bejo
At NYFF 2011
Photo by Eric Roffman

THE ARTIST is one of the best films of this year... or any year.

It is a brand new, modern, black & white (mostly), silent (mostly) film about the end of black & white, silent pictures. And love!

The film is chock full (yes, that's probably a vintage-ly accurate expression) of Gallic irony and humor, wisdom, cinematic wizardry, and intelligence.  And love of films. 

It's a French film, but it has no French (hey, it's silent!), and it was made in Hollywood by an American crew.

It was brilliantly written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius...

Michel Hazanavicius, Writer-Director
At NYFF 2011
Photo by Eric Roffman

The director and cast members
(l to r) Michel Hazanavicius, Berenice Bejo, Penelope Ann Miller,
Jean Dujardin,  Beth Grant, James Cromwell
At NYFF 2011
Photo by Eric Roffman

...And perfectly executed by a large cast, toplined by the terrific pair of French actors, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, assisted by a powerful American cast of supporting players.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


NOVEMBER 22, 1963

No man is an island
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent
A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.

Each man's death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls...
It tolls for thee.
John Donne, 1624


Monday, November 14, 2011



OCTOBER 25 – 30 2011


Last April, on Shakespeare’s birthday in fact, together with some great actresses, singers, and musical collaborators, I presented LOVE'S FINE WIT, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s sonnets as a 3 character play (with Elizabethan songs and music) about an intense love triangle. Here's a story about this play:


Creating theater from the sonnets is a project I’ve been working on for some time. The play we did last April is one of several adaptations I've created of plays based on re-arranging the sonnets and using them as dialog. The play in April, in fact, was a staged reading of (a somewhat abridged version of) a full length play (with Elizabethan songs and music) about a fierce and passionate love triangle, created entirely using the sonnets as dialog, and songs from Shakespeare as the music.

On Twitter I heard about a call for papers for the “Blackfriars Conference” on Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center (ASC), and I sent in a proposal for a paper on "The Sonnets as Dramatic Speech." I was invited to the Conference. 

Here is a post describing the ideas in this paper:


Here are some notes about my visit to this year's Blackfriars Conference:
The Blackfriars Conference, held every other year at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton Virginia, celebrates, not surprisingly, Shakespeare (and his contemporaries), with scholarly papers, not-so-scholarly papers, conversation, networking, and lots of plays.

First of all, I enjoyed the Conference very much. The plays were terrific, the keynotes excellent, and the Select Paper Sessions very good (but the “Staging Sessions” and “Colloquies” were a mixed bag.) Many ancillary features and the generally relaxed, good-humored atmosphere added to the success of the event. The information, the interactions, and the plays were all at a very high level. And it was fun.

Not only were all the keynotes and many of the papers interesting and informative, but they were exceptionally well presented, with a sense of humor, good presentation style, and they were enjoyable.

The plays were terrific (The Tempest, Hamlet, King Henry V, Tamburlaine, and The Importance of Being Earnest on five consecutive days! in repertory!! – and with a random coin toss to determine which of two versions of Hamlet to present!!!) … with more about that later.

Stephen Booth
At the Blackfriars Conference 2011
Photo by Eric Roffman

The first keynote address was by the distinguished scholar, Stephen Booth, Professor Emeritus at Berkeley, and author of the classic study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. (See below for more about Professor Booth.) His talk, which set the tone for the Conference, was both informal and witty, and presented important content that noted many ways in which lapses in Shakespeare’s plays’ internal logic challenges the audience.

In other keynote addresses, George Wright from the University of Minnesota, and later Scott Kaiser from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, discussed aspects of Shakespeare’s language in performance and Tiffany Stern from University College, Oxford, discussed the importance of commercial Faires in Shakespeare’s time, pointing out that Faires were publicly supported events, while theater was somewhat subversive.

The atmosphere at the Conference was light, rather than lugubrious. In that spirit, speakers who spoke beyond their allotted time would exit, pursued by a bear; and the Conference awarded a (generous!) truancy prize to the registrant who missed the most events, visiting attractions in the town. It seems to me this is very much in the spirit of the Faire, since the commercial exchange between the town and the Shakespeare Center is important for the welfare of both.

In the late evening there were short staged readings of new, mostly funny plays related to Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

The Select Paper Sessions dealt with a variety of topics. Many of the papers presented discussed ways that performance practices in Shakespeare’s time related to interactions with the audience. Several papers dealt with playwrights from the 1500’s and 1600’s other than Shakespeare. One interesting paper compared the structure of tragedy to the structure of a knock-knock joke: (The "who's there?" person -- plays the straight-man and the joke’s on him -- or her). Another paper pointed out that the actors in Shakespeare’s company were very skilled in many facets of performance.

Two other papers discussed the structure of the theaters that Shakespeare performed in, and the possibility that they had some quite sophisticated methods at their disposal for controlling the lighting of the performance.

Representatives from Shakespeare’s Globe in England presented a model of an indoor theater they are building, and talked about the fantastic plans they have for the Olympics, presenting 37 of Shakespeare’s plays (all his plays and nothing but his plays?), as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.


Less successful than the papers and keynotes were the Colloquy and Staging Sessions. The problems with the colloquy format were that

Here's a possible partial solution:
The Staging and Performance Choice Sessions were interesting simply because they called attention to interesting moments in the plays, but for the most part these sessions featured neither high level scholarship, nor expert stage craft or direction.  

The volunteer actors from the ASC Ensemble, however, were exceptionally good in cold readings in these sessions with only the barest preparation. Also, it should be noted with great appreciation, that even the most senior members of the Ensemble participated in many sessions either as actors, assisting the speaker with illustrative readings from the plays, or simply as members of the audience.

Returning to the plays… Indeed, the play’s the thing wherein the American Shakespeare Center really distinguished itself.

It was exceptional to present, as mentioned above, five plays in repertory, brilliantly directed and performed (The Tempest, Hamlet, King Henry V, Tamburlaine, and The Importance of Being Earnest – with two versions of Hamlet selected immediately before the performance by a flip of a coin… and the audience of scholars loudly cheering for their favorite version like the audience at a Presidential Debate). The plays were very well done, in a style not common in New York, and the acting and interpretations were terrific.

The theater (called The Blackfriars Theater) at the American Shakespeare Center is generally a replica of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars. It has about 300 seats, and one or two dozen members of the audience are seated on the stage and the stage balcony. The lights are kept on in the whole house during the performance. (Their motto is, “We do it with the lights on.”) And the performers frequently interact with the audience in an extremely natural way. The presence of the audience is acknowledged.

The theater aims to implement some of the "original practices" used in Shakespeare's time.  Very little scenery, furniture or props are used, except for weapons.  Costumes, however, are quite elaborate. Exits, ending a scene, followed by entrances from the doors behind the stage, one on either side, are very rapid -- elapsed time between scenes must be understood by the audience from the dialog.

In keeping with the notion of "original practices," one Paper, noting that it was exceptionally cold around 1600, suggested that perhaps the heat should be turned off in the theater.

It occurred to me, hearing the discussions of some of the "original practices" around Shakespeare's time, that there might be some similarities to performing conditions in many off-off-Broadway theaters going back at least as far as the Cafe Cino OOB revival of the 60's, and continuing thru to today, with small stages, audience close by the performers, lighting cues a problem, limited rehearsal time, and heat not always working right.

The plays at ASC are presented by a repertory company, all of whom are quite exceptional. Most singular was James Keegan, who on four successive days played Prospero in THE TEMPEST; The King, Claudio, in HAMLET; the Bishop and the Welsh soldier in HENRY V; and the title character in TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT (PART I); and he was superior in each of the roles. It was quite a tour-de-force. (See below for a video – in 3D! – of Keegan discussing Prospero in THE TEMPEST.)

The interpretation of HAMLET they presented was interesting, though I have my own view of the play which differs in some respects from their production...

Gertrude in HAMLET is often played by a good – or even great – actress, but rarely one that immediately suggests why Claudius might commit fratricide to have her. Blythe Coons as Gertrude was one of the few actresses I’ve seen playing that part that made sense as a queen for Claudius to murder for.

Still, the behavior of the Royal Couple was well within the bounds of decorum. But I have always felt that Claudius is quite a lout, as suggested by the lines:

The king doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail and the swaggering upspring reels,
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.

Is it a custom?

Ay, marry, is ’t.
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honored in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.

I think Claudius and Gertrude should be quite explicit, exhibitionist, and vulgar in displaying their lust publicly. Similarly, I think the relation between Hamlet and Ophelia should be made clear (whatever one believes it to be) in their physical life together. (I’m personally in the:  he really loved her once school.)

John Harrell as Hamlet was vocally excellent. His subtly fey physical behavior I thought was both irritating and suggestive. He had zero chemistry with Ophelia, and was quite intensely disturbed by his mother’s actions: all going to suggest an underlying element of sexual confusion contributing to his behavior. Also (either a plus or minus depending on your view of the play) I had a hard time telling when Hamlet was feigning madness and when he was truly overcome by it.

By the way, the staging of the Ghost scenes, and the matter-of-fact but still magisterial way the Ghost was portrayed by the fine actor, Rene Thornton, Jr., seemed just right.

I had never seen TAMBURLAINE (Part I), a play that helped make Christopher Marlowe famous in his day. It is quite spectacular – and quite extravagant in the scope of its story, the extremes of cruelty, and the fact that the violent, cruel Tamburlaine does not suffer tragic defeat, but rather extravagant success, culminating in marrying the woman he loves and making her queen. (But there is a Part II.)

Most interesting was THE TEMPEST. It was a terrific interpretation and production in every way but one. (Miranda’s costume was ridiculous.) The Prospero created by James Keegan is quite different from the usual cruel slave master, and the final scene is not a metaphor for the retirement of Shakespeare from creating magic. Rather, Prospero does only what is natural and necessary in the situation on the island to control Caliban and Ariel. This Prospero is using his magic one last time to bring his daughter, now grown, into the real world, with love, and to reclaim his ownrightful position, which had been taken from him when he slighted his responsibility to the office by choosing magic instead.

Here is a discussion of Prospero (in 3D!) by James Keegan.

(Note: To start, click on the arrow. It will start as a red/green 3D video, but at the bottom there will be a conspicuous "3D". Click on this to see the video the way you want. It can be viewed in 2D, in 3D with red/cyan glasses, on a 3D TV, and by using the HTML5 option it can be viewed using a computer with NVIDIA 3D. It can also be viewed on a no-glasses 3D screen like the HTC EVO 3D smart phone.)

Stephen Booth is a Shakespearean scholar (not to be confused with another Stephen Booth who writes crime novels), famous initially for his masterwork on the sonnets, but also known for other books and many critical articles. He was the initial keynote speaker, and is a long time supporter of the American Shakespeare Center:



(Certainly these would be great presents for anyone interested in Shakespeare!)


All in all, the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is an important institution. In addition to the plays and the Conference, they have a year-long ongoing impressive collection of educational initiatives, and collaborate with Mary Baldwin College in providing graduate education in Shakespeare.

The style of performance – notably the way the performers interact with the audience – is quite different from any Shakespeare I have seen around the New York area, and it would be well worth looking to the American Shakespeare Center for an exchange of ideas.

Friday, November 11, 2011


11:11:11.11 11/11/11

For the second time today, we are approaching the eleven hundredth of a second on the 11th second of the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this century and this millennium.

It happened twice today but won't happen again for about a thousand years ('til 3011 -- 2111 doesn't cut it millennium-wise).

But I prefer to think of it not as eleventhes but rather as ones. Here is a moment -- to a hundredth of a second -- when the whole time thing is ones, a beginning, a start! All new!

It's like the first of everything!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011




November 10th - November 17th

The Other Israeli Film Festival (yes, that is its actual name) features films with an Arab/Israeli focus.

Below is a short list of trailers for some of the films. Following that is a description by the Festival of all the films.

One very interesting, but possibly somewhat problematic feature of the Festival is that there is, on-line, a section with streaming videos of films, some that are in the Festival and some that are not in the Festival but are related -- for example they may be made by actors or filmmakers who have films in the Festival. Unfortunately, this site requires registration, and has a very complex set of TERMS OF USE, which seemed possibly objectionable, and was too complicated for me to agree to, and I strongly suggest carefully checking it before you register for the site. Note that some of the films on this site are free, but many are not free, costing slightly more than a day's rental from Blockbuster.

The quality of the films is mixed. Many of the films are long in heart, but a number of films could would benefit from better production values. Israel would do well to put more money into the production values of independent films that promote the values and visions of Israeli filmmakers.  More sublety and better visual quality would help empower international distribution of these films. 

Festival site:

For the complete program, see:

Tickets for the Other Israel Film Festival are on sale 

by phone
-- 646-505-5708.





Lost Paradise is a very interesting short film, highlighting the universality of humanity when in their raw flesh, but when in their customary wardrobe for their everyday world, perhaps universality takes more effort.

Lost Paradise - Trailer from Oded Binnun עודד בן נון on Vimeo.

Here is the Festival's description of the films and the program:

November 10th - November 17th

For the complete program, see:

The Other Israel Film Festival will present award-winning films and NY premieres by and about Arab citizens of Israel, as well as other minority populations in Israeli society.

The festival goes beyond the films with in-depth high profile conversations in the SpeakEasy Cafe.

This year’s festival will feature narratives and documentaries dealing with community and identity, social revolution and the experience of women, often autobiographical to the filmmakers.

Highlights of this year’s festival films include the U.S. premiere of the BAFTA-nominated British drama: The Promise. This epic mini series captures the British perspective on the establishment of the state of Israel as the mandate occupying Palestine. The series shows the relevance of the British Mandate of 1920 to the Palestinian question of today.

In addition, the festival will premiere award-winning films such as Eitan Tzur’s thriller Naomi. A favorite at the Venice Film Festival, the film has received international acclaim for combining suspense and comedy with subtle social statements.

Also among the festival’s award-winning documentaries, opening night film Dolphin Boy as well as The Human Turbine touch on environmental topics that pertain to Jewish and Arab societies in Israel.

Festival founder Carole Zabar notes the Dutch documentary Shout as “a rare opportunity to see inside the tumultuous Syrian society, as two Palestinians who grew up in Israel spend a year of school in Syria.”

The Festival will also once again present panels and conversations with soon to be announced filmmakers, scholars and special guests in the Other Israel SpeakEasy Café. Last year’s SpeakEasy guests included Oscar nominee Debra Winger, NY1’s Neil Rosen, renowned historian Professor Benny Morris and best-selling author Naomi Regan amongst many more directors, writers and actors.

The SpeakEasy Café aims to take the conversation beyond the films and provide a platform for in-depth discussions and audience interaction with filmmakers and protagonists.

Tickets for the Other Israel Film Festival are on sale

online --
by phone -- 646-505-5708.


77 STEPS (NYC Premiere) Ibtisam Mara'ana / 2010 / Documentary / 56 min
The personal journey of the director, Ibtisam Mara'ana, who leaves her Arab-Muslim village and moves to Tel-Aviv. In an attempt to find an apartment in the city, she encounters discrimination and refusal by most landlords because of her Arab origins. She finally finds an apartment, and meets her neighbor – Jonathan, a Jewish-Canadian man who immigrated to Israel. A love story evolves as they both search for a sense of belonging and home, on the background of social and political turbulence.

A PLACE OF HER OWN (NYC Premiere) Sigal Emanuel / 2011 / Documentary / 68 min
This documentary was filmed over the course of four years and follows Reut, a teenager who spent most of her life moving between institutions and living on the street. The film opens when Reut is seventeen and giving birth to her first son, who is immediately taken away by welfare authorities. Reut’s battle with the State for custody of her son leads her to forge a relationship with his foster family – religious Jews who live in a settlement in the Occupied Territories. Meanwhile, Reut meets and marries a Palestinian man, moves to his village and has two more children. Reut is an introverted and intriguing character who longs for stability and a place to call home. Instead, life hands her surprising twists and turns, right up to its tragic end.

DAVID AND KAMAL (NY Premiere) Kikuo Kawasaki / Drama / 2010 / 78 min
David & Kamal is about two nine-year old boys – Kamal, an Arab Jerusalemite and David, an American Jew. David and Kamal meet in Jerusalem's Old City where Kamal is dodging bullies and trying to sell postcards. When Kamal sees David he assumes David is carrying a lot of money and pickpockets him. David chases after Kamal but runs into Kamal's tormentors. Kamal turns around and saves David and the boys escape together. Rooftop chases, secret passageways, and police cars and soldiers bring action to David and Kamal's adventure of a lifetime.

DOLPHIN BOY (NYC Premiere) Dani Menkin & Yonatan Nir / 2011 / Documentary / 72 min
After being brutally tortured by his classmates, Morad - a teenaged boy from an Arab village in the North of Israel - is suffering from a severe post-traumatic shock, disconnecting himself from the world around him. When told by doctors that dolphin-assisted therapy is the last treatment option, Morad's father leaves his job and family to move to Dolphin Reef on the Red Sea, vowing not to return unless the boy achieves full recovery. Surrounded by a dedicated doctor, new friends, and an Israeli Jewish girlfriend, Morad and his father embark on a remarkable four-year journey of recovery. This is the tale of a parent’s patient and tender love, and the friendship between a teenager and the group of dolphins who helped him heal.


HOMECOMING (NYC Premiere) Orna Ben Dor and Noa Maiman / 2011 / Documentary / 58 min
Homecoming follows three non-Jewish Israeli teens who were born in Israel to foreign workers. The film follows the teenagers as they visit their parents homes; in the Congo, Peru and the Philippines. Away from Israel and meeting their extended families for the first time, the kids are confronted with questions about the meaning of and about their own identities. This film deals with the politics of immigration and culture through a profoundly personal lens and is particularly timely as Israel has recently begun to deport illegal foreign workers and their Israeli-born children.

THE HUMAN TURBINE (US Premiere) Danny Verete / 2010 / Documentary / 54 min
The Human Turbine takes us to Susia, a Palestinian village in the Hebron Mountains. There, in a village surrounded by Jewish settlements, villagers and Jews have come together to generate resources that neither the Palestinian Authorities nor Israel provides. Together, this group has harnessed wind and solar energy to bring electricity to the caves and tents in which the villagers live. Now, they want to use renewable energy to provide running water to the residents of Susia. This film documents both the remarkable and enterprising efforts of this collaboration and the depth of the collaborators’ friendship.

LOST PARADISE A selection of cutting edge, award winning & engaging short films:
Lost Paradise Mihal Brezis & Oded Binnun / 2008 / Narrative / 10 min
A man and a woman are tenderly making love in a one-star hotel room. A moment later, when they are fully dressed, the idyll that seemed authentic is now gone.
Transparent Black (NYC Premiere) Roni Geffen / 2010 / Documentary / 20 min
African refugees attending a Hebrew class receive lessons in what it means to be Israel.
Stitches (US Premiere) Dana Keider / 2009 / Drama / 24 min
Nadine, an Arab young working fruit picker, is engaged to be married. While her mother sews her wedding dress, Nadine’s heart goes out to Shachar, her Jewish foreman. The two lead a forbidden love affair which forces Nadine to confront her reality.
*Adult Content

MY LOVELY SISTER (Special Limited Presentation. By Invitation Only) Marco Carmel / 2011 / Narrative / 91 min
A whimsical tale of the rivalry between superstitious Rahma and her sister Mary who followed her heart and married an Arab man. Starring Moshe Ivgy, Evelin HaGoel and Reymonde Amsellem, the film is based on a Jewish Moroccan folktale.


NAOMI (HITPARTZUT X) (NYC Premiere) Eitan Tzur / 2010 / Narrative / 90 min
This award winning thriller takes place in the mixed city of Haifa. Ilan Ben Natan, a 58-year-old Astrophysics Professor, is obsessively in love with his young wife, Naomi. When Ilan discovers that his deepest fears have come true – Naomi has a lover – he is unable to control himself. He confronts the lover and commits a horrible act, the consequences of which will weigh heavily on his conscience.

NEW VOICES: YELLOW MUMS (US Premiere) Firas Khoury / 2010 / Drama / 35 min
Nizar (9) is a young Palestinian introverted altar boy and a social outcast. During this years' Easter, Nizar decides to compete with the village children in the traditional "breaking eggs" games. He is cheating his way to win, all for the sake of Jesus. It would be the first time Nizar questions his faith.

DUSTY ROAD (US Premiere) Rukaya Sabbah / 2010 / Drama / 25 min
An unexpected meeting between 13 year old Tamer and Khalil, an old man who suffers post traumatic stress disorder, leads to a special friendship. A kid in Tamer's class does everything to ruin this friendship. And a sneak preview of a new film starring Mohammad Bakri.

THE OFFICE (US Premiere) Eitan Tzur / 2010 / TV Satire / 50 min
New episodes from the Israeli adaptation of the world famous comedy. The office is a microcosm of Israeli society, where an orthodox woman, Arab man, Russian immigrant, and gay man work under one roof with a useless, non-pc boss. Based upon the original series produced for the BBC, and created, written and devised by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

THE PROMISE (US Premiere) Peter Kosminsky / 2011 / Narrative / 81 min Episode 1
In this groundbreaking Channel 4 Production, we follow the period leading up to Israel's establishment, mirrored in the ramifications in Israel today. Told through a young woman visiting Israel for the fist time, reading her grandfather's diary detailing his life as a soldier serving in British Mandate Palestine.

SHOUT (US Premiere) Sabine Lubbe Bakker, Ester Gould / 2010 / Documentary / 75 min
Young ‘Golanis’ – Druze born on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – are given an opportunity to study in their parents’ homeland: Syria. Full of self-confidence, best friends Ezat and Bayan leave their village to discover their Arab roots. But Damascus proves to be a colorless metropolis where they often feel far from home. Shout is a film about friendship in one of the world’s forgotten conflict zones; a documentary about growing up and the search for identity and a sense of belonging.

TORN (NY Premiere) Ronit Kertsner / 2011 / Documentary / 52 min
Only twelve years after being ordained as Catholic priest Romuald Waszkinel learned that he was born to Jewish parents. The film follows Waszkinel from his church in Poland to a religious kibbutz in Israel. Waszkinel does not reject his Catholicism in favor of Judaism—instead he struggles with two identities, unable to renounce either. But though Waszkinel embraces both Judaism and Catholicism, the religions and the state of Israel refuse him. Can Waszkinel remain a Catholic priest and be an observant Jew at the same time?


OPENING NIGHT GALA Thu. Nov. 10, 7:30pm @ The JCC in Manhattan


DOLPHIN BOY (NYC Premiere) Dani Menkin & Yonatan Nir / 2011 / Documentary / 72 min Followed by an exclusive reception with guest filmmakers and honorees.

NEW GENERATIONS DINNER Fri. Nov. 11, 7pm @ The JCC in Manhattan
Join the New Israel Fund's New Generations and other young leadership groups for a Shabbat dinner and intimate discussion with festival guests. Co-presented by New Israel Fund

Join Other Israel and The Taub Center for Israel Studies at NYU in special presentation of two festival favorites and in-depth conversation with the filmmakers, protagonists, and renowned scholars.

77 STEPS (see films listing for description) Sunday, Nov. 13, 3pm @ First Floor Screening Room, NYU King Juan Carlos Center (53 Washington Square South) Followed by panel discussion of the recently published book Israel's Palestinians, The Conflict Within with the co-authors, Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman, and director of 77 STEPS Ibtisam Mara'ana and other participants.

DOLPHIN BOY (see films listing for description) Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7pm @ Jurow Lecture Hall, NYU Silver Center (100 Washington Square East, entrance on Waverly Place) Followed by panel discussion with producer Judith Manassen Ramon and protagonist Dr. Ilan Kutz.

Saturday, Nov. 12

Snow in Jerusalem
2pm at the JCC in Manhattan

Story-telling from Deborah Da Costa's book, telling the story of Avi and Hamudi, two boys who live in Jerusalem's Old City, unknowingly caring for the same beautiful white stray cat.

FREE. Recommended for ages 5-10.

David and Kamal
4pm at the JCC in Manhattan
A screening of Kikuo Kawasaki’s feature drama. See films listing (above) for the description.

FREE. Recommended for ages 10+.


ABOUT THE OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL Founded in 2007, The Other Israel Film Festival uses film to foster social awareness and cultural understanding. The Festival presents dramatic and documentary films, as well as engaging panels about history, culture, and identity on the topic of minority populations in Israel with a focus on Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up twenty percent of Israel’s population. Our goal is to promote awareness and appreciation of the diversity of the state of Israel, provide a dynamic and inclusive forum for exploration of, and dialog about populations in margins of Israeli society, and encourage cinematic expression and creativity dealing with these themes. Our programming is guided by our mission to showcase quality cinema that brings to the big screen the human stories and daily lives of Arab Citizens and other minorities groups in Israel, often overlooked by mainstream Israeli society and culture.

Monday, November 07, 2011



Sam Waterston is a brilliant King Lear at The Public Theater.

This is not a pompous stage King beguiled by evil daughters' flattery. For once the King is believably old, sick, and confused: profound in his humanity, but not his understanding. This is a human who is adrift in his old age. His story is much more accessibly real and touching than any Lear I have seen before.

The rest of the production is mixed, in some ways supporting this mythical yet modern version -- for example, with mostly modern dress and a mostly bare yet stylized stage design -- and in some ways confusing -- with weapons, explosions, and some costuming that clashed with each other anachronistically. It was not so much timeless as asynchronous.

The supporting actors were also mixed, with strong performances from Bill Irwin as The Fool, John Douglas Thompson as Earl of Kent and Seth Gilliam as Edmund. I would have liked Cordelia to be more instantly sympathetic, and Goneril and Regan to be less sympathetic throughout the play, and more physical in their lust for Edmund. (I do believe Shakespeare should be as fierce in its physicality as it is in its language.) It would have been interesting to see Thompson and Michael McKean (Earl of Gloucester) exchange roles. Most all the supporting actors were brilliant during at least some of their moments on stage; those mentioned first were powerful from start to finish.

I am still -- even after Irwin's performance -- not quite sure why The Fool, even when telling harsh truths, is acceptable to the King, while Lear is so outraged by Cordelia when she fails to fulfill the protocol of love at the beginning; however, Waterston's performance suggests that the physical and emotional traumas Lear endures help him to dispel the confusion he was suffering, and regain the understanding he once possessed.

Sam Waterston's performance as King Lear, which runs through November 20, should not be missed.

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