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Brandon Judell

Dark Night, An Israel Student Film Par Excellence
Dark Night

A highlight of the 21st Israel Film Festival (Feb. 23- March 9; http://www.israelfilmfestival.com) and an Oscar nominee for the 2005 Honorary Foreign Film Award in the Student Academy Awards competition, Leon (Leonid) Prudovsky's "Dark Night" is a potent, thoroughly professional take on the current Israeli/ Palestinian quagmire.

Returning home from parole duty on the West Bank, three Israeli soldiers in a jeep foolishly take a shortcut to their base and wind up accosting a landmine. Their vehicle is immediately rendered defunct as is one of its riders, Benish, the only passenger able to speak Arabic.
The survivors—one, a Russian émigré; the other, Shlomi, wounded-- are aware they're in highly unfriendly territory. Slithering unnoticed into a Palestinian village chock full of "terrorists," the duo force its way into a Palestinian couple's home.

The shocked dwellers, a medic and his 7-months-pregnant, Russian-emigre wife, are soon gagged with their hands tied behind their backs.
As you might guess, with the hours ticking by, the two former Russians bond. The tool: a World War I song from their homeland titled "Dark Night," which is about a soldier surrounded by a silence that is only broken by whizzing bullets.

These four, though, are also sitting in silence until the lady goes into contractions, and Shlomi goes into shock from loss of blood.
With both members of Hamas and Israeli forces searching for the soldiers, and with the woman in need of an ambulance, the tension mounts. Will each person's innate humanity overcome his politics? Can anIsraeli trust a Palestinian and vice versa?

Prudovsky masterfully recreates the near-impossibility of solving the current situation with a very unfairy-tale-like coda. The cast is uniformly fine as are the technical credits.

Writer/director: Leon (Leonid) Prudovsky
Cinematographer: Sergei Freedman
Cast: Pini Tavger, Eran Amichai, Jony Arbic, Helena Yaralova. Hana Savyon

Copyright © Brandon Judell 2006

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