2003 | France, Israel, USA | color | 123 min

Hebrew, w/Eng. Subtitles
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Screened at SFJFF 2004

Against the backdrop of a crowded apartment block in a working-class Tel Aviv neighborhood, the turbulent and often poignant lives of twelve characters converge: a pair of illicit lovers, a divorced couple whose son has gone AWOL from the army, the ex-wife’s younger boyfriend, an elderly Holocaust survivor, illegal foreign workers, a half-crazed policewoman, and a rather strange man with a dog. In his latest film, a visually powerful ensemble
drama, renowned Israeli director Amos Gitai brings us a microcosm of Israeli society in unusually intimate -- nearly claustrophobic -- detail.

As in Gitai’s past films (Kadosh, Kippur, Kedma), the political situation is still never far from the surface in the day-to-day personal struggles of the characters. The film begins and ends with the predicament of the divorced couple’s son, who does not wish to serve in his Israeli combat unit. In the background, we hear the ever-present reports of terrorism and polarizing election speeches on car and home radios, and observe a ubiquitous undercurrent of discrimination against Arabs, foreign workers, and Mizrahi Jews.

The alternating beauty and seediness of Tel Aviv, the conflict between duty and freedom, human vulnerability and survival, all come together in an environment of balagan, the Hebrew word meaning "disorder," to be redeemed in the end by new understandings.

Alila is adapted from the novel Returning Lost Loves by Yehoshua Kenaz, and was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.


Amos Gitai
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