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Based in Israel, the United States and France, Gitai has produced an extraordinary, wide-ranging, and deeply personal body of work. In around 40 films, both in documentary and fiction form, Gitai has explored the layers of history in the Middle East and beyond through such themes as homeland and exile, religion, social control and utopia.
This all-new box set contains six previously released fiction films. Includes: DEVARIM (1995), YOM YOM (1998), KADOSH (1999), KIPPUR (2000), KEDMA (2002), and ALILA (2003).
DVD's also available individually.
"Israel's most internationally recognized filmmaker -- and its most controversial." - Robert Sklar, Film Comment
"Amos Gitai's most ambitious film to date...Handsomely photographed." - David Stratton, Variety
Devarim is Amos Gitai's debut narrative feature and the first installment in his renowned "City Trilogy" (concluded by 1998's Yom Yom and 1999's Kadosh), a remarkable trio of films each based in one of Israel's thriving metropolises. Making full use of a decade of documentary experience, Gitai transformed Ya'ackov Shabatai's audacious single-sentence cult novel "Zihron Devarim" into an intricate portrait of three disaffected Tel Aviv men and the city they call home.
Compulsive womanizer Cesar (Assi Dayan, the actor son of Israeli Defense Minster Moshe Dayan), inertia-bound pianist Israel (Amos Schub), and mamma's boy Goldman (Gitai) share friendship, fading youth and diminishing expectations. But when Goldman's father dies, their stagnant lives begin to transform. Israel is seduced by Ella, Cesar's lover and muse. Cesar clumsily reaches back into the relationship debris behind him in search of a meaningful connection. Goldman trades his suffocating family responsibilities for a wander through Tel Aviv's hot summer night. Whether paralyzed by self-doubt or giving in to self-indulgent hedonism, each man confronts a freedom they are not sure how to use.
Working for the first time with cinematographer Renato Berta, who often collaborated with Louis Malle and Jean-Luc Godard, Amos Gitai languorously chronicles the light, space and heat of Tel Aviv in sensuous long takes. Devarim's objective character detail and organically evolving narrative became the template for Gitai's subsequent City Trilogy films. A sharply drawn, moody portrait of Israel's "lost generation," Devarim seductively illustrates, as Cesar says, that in contemporary Tel Aviv, as in any modern city, "life's a bitch, but it's mesmerizing."Hide this content.
In Yom Yom, the second film in Amos Gitai's (Devarim, Kadosh) celebrated "City Trilogy," Israel's preeminent writer-director weaves, "a darkly comic tale of characters driven by divided loyalties and neurotic inhibitions" (The Village Voice) in the mixed nationality Mediterranean port city of Haifa. Featuring a top-flight ensemble cast, including multiple Israeli Academy Award® winner Moshe Ivgy (Munich) and stage legend (and 20s UFA child star) Hanna Meron (M), Yom Yom is a film of unusual wit, grace and insight.
In spite of blood ties to both Haifa's Jewish and Arab populations, Moshe (Ivgy) leads a rootless existence. Grown weary of his impatient wife Didi (Keren Mor) and ambivalent about his needy young mistress Grisha (Natali Atiya), the only relationships Moshe doesn't complicate are with his devoted parents, Jewish Hanna (Meron) and Arab Yussuf, and with Jules (Juliano Mer), Moshe's ne'r-do-well childhood friend. But when Jules' real estate developer brother moves to buy a prized piece of property from the Arab side of the family, Moshe's divided ancestry is put to the test. As Moshe becomes entangled in the hidden connections between friend, wife, lover, parent, Arab and Jew, Yom Yom, "exploits the comedy of Moshe's predicament without robbing the character of his dignity" (The New York Times).
From boudoir to bakery to army barracks, "Gitai's genius," wrote The Village Voice "is to show the conflict infiltrating every encounter." Underneath its deadpan surface, Yom Yom is a film of incisiveness and energy that places an individual face on a city's divided identity, and reveals the heart beneath anonymous modern ennui.Hide this content.
Set in the Mea Sherim quarter of Jerusalem, an enclave of the ultra-Orthodox,
Kadosh explores a hermetic world almost never seen on the screen.
Here, for ten years, the pious Rivka (Yael Abecassis) has devoted herself
to her husband Meir (Yoram Hattab), but their marriage remains childless.
Presumed barren, she is rejected by her community, which prizes children
above all else. The story that follows relates the harrowing fate of Rivka,
and also here beloved sister Malka (Meital Barda), in love with a young
man who has fled the community to lead a secular life.
A huge box office hit in Europe, acclaimed at film festivals in Cannes, Toronto, New Delhi and Tokyo, Kadosh is both a powerful drama and an impassioned feminist polemic. As religious fundamentalism achieves new political significance in many countries around the world, the questions at the heart of Gitai's compelling drama resonate far beyond the borders of Israel. Hide this content.
From the director of Kadosh, an official selection at the Cannes, New York and Toronto Film Festivals, Kippur focuses on the presence of the human spirit in battle. Despite its extreme graphic depiction of war, the film was recognized as a major cinematic breakthrough. Called an "existential rather than a political event" by A.O. Scott (The New York Times), Kippur is a gut-wrenching journey through beautiful landscapes ravaged by gunfire, exploding mines, fear and desolation.
The film takes place in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt and Syria launched attacks in Sinai and the Golan Heights. Although the story is told from the perspective of Israeli soldiers, the film is far from being an exercise in propaganda. We are led by Weinraub (Liron Levo) and his friend Ruso (Tomer Ruso) on a day that begins with quiet city streets, but ends with death, destruction and devastation of both body and mind.
Although shot in long and unobtrusive takes, the film never reaches the realm of voyeurism. We are treated to a first-person experience, yet there exists a nagging sense of dislocation. Various scenes are awash in the surreal as Weinraub's head hangs out over a rescue helicopter's open door, watching with tranquil desperation as the earth passes beneath, the overpowering whir of the blades creating a hypnotic state.
It is not a traditional "blood, guts and glory" war film. There are no men in battle, only the rescue crews trying to pick up the broken pieces. Kippur is the shell-shocked memoir of the director Gitai, himself a participant in the conflict, and of the days that changed his life forever.Hide this content.
An Official Selection at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, Kedma is renowned Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai’s (Kippur, Kadosh) powerful drama about a group of European Jewish refugees who arrive at Palestine in the critical year of 1948. Carried on the deck of the freighter Kedma, they come ashore to find not the Promised Land of milk and honey, but a war-torn desert in the bloody throes of transformation into the state of Israel. Rescued from a British army ambush at beachside by Palmach Jewish guerillas, the Kedma’s ragged refugees are remade into soldiers expected to offer their lives to defend a nation that does not yet exist in a land they’ve never known.
"Forget about the past if you want to survive" declares Rosa, a Russian Jew who endured Siberian imprisonment. With no common language and only the clothes on their backs, Rosa, Yiddish-speaking teenager Menachem, and Lodz ghetto escapee Janusz form a desperate fellowship as they follow their rescuers into battle. The chaos of a war for independence may be the only thing that can at last sever the ties that bind the Kedma’s passengers to the tragic memories of a Europe they will likely never see again.
Kedma is both a journey to survival and a chronicle of rebirth. As Rosa and her fellow Europeans engage Arab resistance and elude British pursuit, they transform from exiles to insurgents and from Jews to Israelis. Directed by Gitai in a near documentary realist style, Kedma is an intimate epic of "overwhelming passion" that "tells you all you need to know about why this war still wages on with no end in sight." (Time Out New York)Hide this content.
In Alila, director Amos Gitai (Kedma, Kadosh), "Israel's one-man new wave," (The Village Voice) has created an "engaging, subtly arresting drama" (Time Out New York) that examines the lives of a half dozen residents of a run-down Tel-Aviv apartment building. This Altmanesque panorama explores, "with humor and humane spirit" (Time Out), the loneliness and deep need for connection that exists behind the closed doors of those living on the margins.
For the apartment dwellers of Alila, every action creates a ripple unknowingly felt by all. Gorgeous libertine Gabi's (Yael Abecassis - Kadosh) loud, violent trysts with her physically dominant, emotionally unavailable lover Hezi (Amos Lavie) bring down the wrath of their disgusted neighbors. Mali (Hanna Laslo), Gabi's sole confidante, reluctantly joins her neurotic ex-husband Ezra (Uri Klauzner) in his search for their army deserter son. Ezra's illegal construction site and undocumented immigrant workers in turn prompt the hermit Schwartz (Yosef Carmon) to relive the horrors of the Nazi death camps, as his Filipino companion Linda (Lyn Shiao Zamir) helplessly looks on. Ultimately, it is the reality behind the paranoid threats of shrill neighbor Ronit (Ronit Elkabetz) that provides a unity to the concentric circles of cause and effect passing through Alila's thin walls and thick skins.
Using a daring camera style made up of 40 individual single-shot scenes, Amos Gitai showcases his story's intertwining connections and his ensemble casts' extraordinary facility. "A boldly entertaining film" (Newsday), Alila vividly reveals an Israeli metropolis of surprising diversity and finds inadvertent harmony in the dissonance of city life.Hide this content.