This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

4Apr/10

THE SURREAL WORLD OF ETGAR KERET

Partners Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen collaborate on JELLYFISH

Partners Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen collaborate on JELLYFISH

JELLYFISH (MEDUZOT) (Shira Geffen & Etgar Keret, 2007)
BAMcinématek
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Monday, April 5, 7:00
Series runs April 5-7
718-636-4100
www.bam.org

Short-story writer and children’s book author Etgar Keret and playwright and kids’ book writer Shira Geffen, who are life partners, teamed up in 2007 for their feature-film directorial debut, JELLYFISH (MEDUZOT), a small, charming Israeli film that won the Camera D’Or at Cannes. Written by Geffen, the story follows three women dealing with family problems that threaten to leave them lost and lonely. After her boyfriend dumps her, Batya (Sarah Adler) heads off to her job working for a wedding caterer, where she is surrounded by happy people celebrating a marriage while she contemplates her own bleak future. But her life changes when she is sitting on the beach and a silent young girl (Nikol Leidman) comes walking out of the ocean and approaches her. When a policeman says that no one has reported the girl missing or is looking for her, Batya decides to take care of the child herself, perhaps as a reaction to the offhanded way in which her own wealthy, successful mother treats her. Meanwhile, Keren (Noa Knoller), who broke her leg at her wedding reception after being trapped in the bathroom, has to spend her honeymoon in a local seaside hotel instead of jetting off to the Caribbean; her unhappiness is soon magnified when she suspects her husband (Gera Sandler) might have eyes for an older woman who is staying alone in the deluxe penthouse suite. And Joy (Ma-nenita De Latorre) is a Filipino guest worker who has come to Israel to make money to send back to her son in the Philippines, but because she cannot speak Hebrew, it is difficult for her to communicate with anyone, especially one old woman (Zharira Charifai) she has been hired to care for. Like the multiple-character drama BABEL, Keret and Geffen’s film focuses on complex family relationship and the challenges of interpersonal communication, with water — whether it’s the leak in Batya’s ceiling, the ocean rumbling outside Keren’s hotel room, the sea the young girl mysteriously emerges from, or the large expanse that separates Joy from her family — serving as a metaphor for both life and death, joy and sorrow. This sweet, painful, and somewhat surreal examination of four generations of women might be set in Tel Aviv, but its themes are universal.

The April 5 screening at BAM kicks off a three-day mini-festival celebrating Keret, who will participate in a postscreening Q&A with Ira Glass. The series continues with Tatia Rosenthal’s $9.99 on Tuesday and Goran Dukic’s WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY on Wednesday.

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