Films of Amos Gitai: Six Films from Israel [6 Discs] [DVD]

As arguably the most important director in the history of Israeli cinema, Amos Gitai grew up in the Middle East, ensconced by an endless cycle of violence and bloodshed that commandeered his attention and ultimately became the focal point of all of his work. A filmmaker set apart by his earnest and passionate commitment to social justice, Gitai unsurprisingly racked up countless awards and nominations at such festivals as Venice and Cannes (including many Golden Palm nods), while drawing constant critical praise. Honing in exclusively on Gitai's fiction work, this unique and comprehensive collection from the Kino label presents six of his most beloved features. Titles include Devarim (1995), Yom Yom (1998), Kadosh (1999), Kippur (2000), Kedma (2002) and Alila (2003).
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Overview

Synopsis

Alila
Directed by Amos Gitai, Alila is based on Yehoshua Kenaz's novel Returning Lost Love and chronicles the trials and tribulations of every day life in Tel Aviv. Most of the film revolves around an apartment block on the working-class borders of Tel Aviv, where the trysts of residents Hezi (Amos Lavie) and Gabi (Yael Abecassis) attract their neighbors' attention, as does the unauthorized construction of an additional wing to the building. A neighboring family patriarch, meanwhile, is dealing with legal troubles (he hired illegal Chinese construction workers), the AWOL status of his son, and his wife's affair with a younger man. A Holocaust survivor (Yosef Carmon) and his Filipino housekeeper (Lyn Shiao Zamir) further illustrate the conflict between Jews, Jews of different extractions, and Arabs in the community. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

Devarim
This Israeli drama is based on Yaakov Shabtai's novel Past Continuous and tells the story of three men living in Tel Aviv. Caesar loves his wife and son; he is devastated that they have separated. Now he leads a miserable life in a run-down apartment shared with the sluggardly Israel, a dead-beat musician. Together the two set off to attend the funeral of their friend Goldman's father. Unfortunately, they cannot find the right cemetery. Later the story shifts to their complex love lives. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Kedma
Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai directed this historical drama based on a true story of the conflict between Jewish refugees and Palestinians on the eve of the formation of the nation of Israel. On May 7, 1948, a freight ship, the Kedma, arrived on the coast of Palestine, carrying a load of Jewish refugees from Europe who had survived concentration camps in several nations. A few days later, the state of Israel would be created, but at the time, the passengers of the Kedma found themselves in the midst of a war, as they were greeted by British gunfire on one side, while on the other the Jewish underground army known as the Palmach stood by to defend them. The Palmach took many of the Kedma's refugees into hiding, while the rest were given weapons and asked to fight alongside the Palmach against the British and Palestinians. Over the next several days, the Palestinians and their British allies find themselves fighting with the Palmach soldiers and the Jewish refugees while interacting with one another as both sides realize how close and how far away they truly are. The cast includes Roman Hazanowski, Menachem Lang, Juliano Mer, Yussef Abu Warda, and Andrei Kashkar. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Kadosh
A dark drama of women living in a society where they are second-class citizens, Kadosh/Sacred begins with Meir, an Orthodox Jew living in the Mea Shearim district of Jerusalem, greeting the day with his morning prayers, which includes the phrase, "Thank you, oh Lord, for not having made me a woman." Meir begins to understand just how poorly regarded women can be in the Orthodox faith when his rabbi suggests he should leave his wife. Meir and Rivka (Yael Abecassis) have been married for ten years and have a solid relationship based on affection and mutual respect. However, they have been unable to have children, and as Meir is reminded, the Talmud says a woman without children may as well be dead. Consequently, the rabbi advises Meir to divorce Rivka and take up with a younger woman who can give him a family. Meanwhile, Rivka's younger sister, Malka (Meital Barda), is soon to wed Yossef (Uri Ran Klauzner) in a match arranged by their parents, even though Malka loves another man, Yaakov (Sami Hori), who has dared to question the teachings of the Orthodox faith. Yossef soon proves to be blind to Malka's emotional and physical needs, and she begins to wonder how long she can continue to live within this circle, even though it is the only world she knows. Destined to be controversial in its native Israel, Kadosh/Sacred was shown in competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Kippur
Filmmaker Amos Gitai was a first-hand witness to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which troops from Egypt and Syria chose one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar to launch a surprise attack on Israel. This film examines the short but bloody conflict through the eyes of a student, Weinraub (Liron Levo). Weinraub and his friend Russo (Tomer Russo) have been instructed to join a special military unit on the Golan Heights shortly after the fighting begins, but in the confusion they are instead thrown in with an emergency medical team led by Dr. Klauzner (Uri Ran Klauzner). Weinraub and Ruso help Klauzner and his men rescue the wounded, and they find themselves in as much danger as the soldiers on the front line, as the fighting rages on around them and their helicopter is hit by enemy fire. Meanwhile, on the ground another doctor (Pini Mittleman) tries to preserve an oasis of calm and medical discipline in the midst of war. Kippur was shown in competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Yom Yom
Amos Gitai directed this Israeli-French family comedy-drama, the second film in a trilogy about contemporary Israeli cities. A Jewish woman, Hanna (Hanna Maron), runs a bakery with her Arab husband Yussef (Yussef Abu Warda), while their son Moshe (Moshe Ivgi) has problems with his wife Didi (Dalit Kahan). With a proposed retail mall in the future, Yussef feels there are inherent political implications if he were to sell the bakery to the Israeli developer. Shown at the Montreal World Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

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