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Top 20 Alternative Picks for TIFF 2013: Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem

Bethlehem – Yuval Adler

Section: Discovery
Dates: Monday 9th, Wednesday 11th, Sunday 15th

Buzz: While a novice at directing (this is his first feature), Yuval Adler’s rumoured stint working for the Israeli Secret Service has given him in-depth insider knowledge of the fluctuating conflict and ongoing tension between the Israelis and and Palestinians in the Middle East. Working with Muslim journalist Ali Waked as the screenwriter, Adler’s thriller has already garnered numerous nominations from the Israeli Film Academy (including Best Film and Best Director) and has been critically praised at the recent Venice Film Festival, the first stop in its festival showing which includes Telluride before Toronto. Critics and filmgoers alike have taken note of Israeli cinema over the past few years, with the well received Waltz with Bashir, Lebanon, and Footnote all receiving thunderous praise. Watch for Bethlehem to be a future Oscar-nominated water cooler subject as well.

The Gist: This tells the story of the unlikely bond between Razi, an Israeli secret service officer, and his Palestinian informant Sanfur. Sanfur is the younger brother of a senior Palestinian militant. Razi recruited him when he was just 15, and developed a very close, almost fatherly relationship to him. Now 17, Sanfur tries to navigate between Razi’s demands and his loyalty to his brother, living a double life and lying to both.

The Gist: Sanfur, the younger brother of wanted Palestinian militant and informant of the Shin Bet (Israel’s Secret Service) Ibrahim, develops a close father-son relationship with Razi, a Shin Bet officer. The situation become further entangled when Shin Bet’s plan to assassinate Ibrahim test Sanfur’s loyalties.

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto-based writer. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Volver), Coen Bros. (Burn After Reading), Dardennes (Lorna's Silence), Haneke (The Piano Teacher), Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times), Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), Kiarostami (Certified Copy), Lynch (Mulholland Drive), Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds), Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), von Trier (Melancholia)

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