Shatz & Barash: The Collaborator and his Family

Posted on 10.29.11

It is quite an achievement by the filmmakers to establish and keep a tension the whole way through a feature length film, where actually nothing happens in a classical action sense. And yet a lot happens, small banal events and problems with the law in a family cursed by the fact that the father was an informer for the Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territory, and had to flee to Israel, to the country he had helped, a country that couldn’t care less now that he is in Tel Aviv with his wife, his children, with a strong focus on the 3 sons, Mahmoud (12), Suffian (16) and Muhammad (17).

The reason that this film is so strong, is that the filmmakers - by staying with the family for a very long time – have obtained the confidence of the characters and are able to make them come out as human beings like you and me, but trapped in the hopeless, apparently unsolvable Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

They live without permit in a shabby area of Tel Aviv. Ibrahim, the father, gets arrested for violence against his wife, who has been home to Hebron endangering herself and her daughter, as they are part of a traitor’s family. He gets 8 months of house arrest, lives in a kind of tent on a roof top, sees his family occasionally, at the same time as he is a kind of caretaker, who sends his sons to collect money from the renters. The sons are in conflict with the law, they are sent to reformatory schools, they suffer from the situation of their father, their attitude towards the Israelis is clear - one talks about getting a swastika tattooed on his arm! At the same time as the Israelis try to hire them as collaborators.

It sounds very dark, and indeed it is, but the film has also a lot of fine human situations from a family life full of compassion and love. The music score, the montage and the care for details of the everyday life... this reviewer has no objections to a small drama of obvious universality.

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