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Israel’s Top Film Comes to L.A. — Finally

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Last year’s original release date for the film was cancelled by the Corona-19 pandemic, which shuttered movie houses across the world.

The post Israel’s Top Film Comes to L.A. — Finally appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Admirers of Shira Haas, who has wowed American viewers in the Israeli television dramas “Unorthodox” and “Shtisel” on Netflix, will finally be able to see her on the big screen in the movie “Asia.”

Last year’s original release date for the film was cancelled by the Corona-19 pandemic, which shuttered movie houses across the world. “Asia” is now scheduled for its Los Angeles premiere on June 25.

The movie’s title, however, has nothing to do with the continent of the same name. Rather, it is the given name of the Russian-born mother (actress Alena Yiv), who immigrates to Israel with her 17-year old daughter Vika (portrayed by Haas) who suffers from an apparently incurable motor disease.

But Vika is a fighter and rebel, often pushing the boundaries of Asia’s maternal love. The daughter clings to life (“I don’t want to die a virgin”) and hangs out with pot-smoking skater punks – more akin to juvenile delinquents in American movies than our old-time image of clean-cut Israelis toiling away on a kibbutz.

For a single mother with a teenage daughter, trying to adjust and make a living in a new country is a tough enough challenge, but it is the mother-daughter relationship that is the focus of director-writer Ruthy Pribar.

In an extended phone interview, Pribar displayed some of the same mettle as the Asia character of the film.

About to embark on the pre-production of “Asia,” her first feature film, Pribar learned that she was pregnant. Contrary to the advice of the producers and actors, she refused to postpone the project and credits her husband, himself a movie director and writer, for backing her up all the way.

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Although the movie’s plotline is not based on her own life, Pribar said, she recalled the emotional impact some 14 years past, when her then 32-year old sister died of a lung infection.

“That was very personal for me and I drew on that for the film, though it is not autobiographical,” she added. “There is a lot of hope in this film for me…a lot of beauty in the ugliness. I made the film as a life lesson for people who have been in this kind of situation…but I am not the daughter of a single mother or a single mother myself.”

It speaks to this reviewer’s male chauvinism that he ventured to suggest that “Asia” would appeal more to women than to men, but Pribar would have none of it.

“The film appeals to both males and females and that’s something I am very happy about,” she said. “I’m trying to look at the beauty in the characters’ lives, not the ugliness… about what cards they have been dealt with and how to make the best of it.”

The view is backed by the predominantly male Israeli film industry, which picked “Asia” as the best movie of the year and as topping the field in almost every other category.

American reviews have been similarly enthusiastic. Typical is one by David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter, who described the film as “An assured feature debut, balancing sobriety with emotional intensity. Actually a twin character study… (with) two superbly matched leads. This perceptively observed small-scale drama…continues to yield surprising nuances that keep you gripped.  There’s a delicate understatement also in the consideration of each woman’s sexuality…seldom depicted on screen.”

Unfortunately, Oscar judges, after viewing entries from 93 countries, took a less enthusiastic view and failed to nominate the Israel entry for Academy Award honors.
“Asia” is scheduled to open June 25 at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles, Town Center 5 in Encino and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, as well as through Laemmle’s Virtual Cinema (www.watchlaemmle.com).
Tickets will go on sale no later than June 22 at 7 p.m. For possible changes, phone (310) 478-1041.

The post Israel’s Top Film Comes to L.A. — Finally appeared first on Jewish Journal.

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Source: Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/culture/arts/film/337547/israels-top-film-comes-to-l-a-finally/

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