The Dove Flyer, a film by Nissim Dayan, based on the book by Eli Amir, has been wowing the Israeli public. Over 60,000 have flocked to see it on general release at cinemas around the country. Beyond all expectations, the film will recover its 9 million shekels' cost, and even stands to make a profit.
Daniel Gad plays a boy who takes on adult responsibilities
"This is a fairly straightforward, authentic-looking story about how the Jewish community of Iraq, having been part of the local society for two and a half millennia, was hustled out-- somewhere between expulsion and rescue-- after Iraq found itself on the losing side of Israel's War of Independence. (Iraq has no border with Israel, but sent troops anyway.)
The story is shown through the eyes of a boy who sees previously hidden political activism and attitudes among his family and friends come to light, for better or worse, as the crisis develops and he is forced to take on adult responsibilities. Daniel Gad, as the boy, is too old-- or at least too big-- for the part. We're forced to mentally subtract a few years from his appearance. The period scenery, on the other hand, looks good except that there can be no very broad outdoor photography because there is too much modernity in contemporary Israel where the shooting took place.
The film is almost entirely in Arabic; among the audience, those who know the language took delight in some salty and picturesque phrases that were lost in translation. Based on a novel and evidently filmed with the novelist's cooperation (he has a cameo), the film seems to take care to touch on several different angles within the political and social scene-- friendships between Jews and Muslims, the communist movement that was active during the same period, the assimilationist option extending even to conversion, the Zionist movement, the arrival of Arab refugees from Palestine, and the cultural influence of the West. For those unfamiliar with the experience of Jews in the world of Islam, it's an interesting picture and it suggests an important added perspective on today's tensions."
The film will be shown in London on 12 May at Cadogan Hall. Tickets £50 benefit the Babylonian Heritage Center, Israel. Tel 0207 730 4500