on January 27, 2003 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
Amos Gitai ("Kadosh," "Kippur") has become Israel's most acclaimed filmmaker. He tackles heavy, provocative subjects concerning religion, war and politics, but has a tendency to leech all the drama out of the proceedings, replacing it with speechifying and dull imagery. "Kedma" is no exception. The film's title refers to a ship carrying Jewish refugees trying to get to Palestine in 1948, opposed by the British, who constantly try to stop such ships from unloading their human cargo. They fail this day and the refugees soon find themselves caught up in the Arab-Jewish battles going on the week before the establishment of the state of Israel.

Gitai is trying to portray the banality of historical events, with unheroic, ordinary people just trying to survive. But "Kedma" is a pedestrian, unexciting drama. It's also heavy handed--Gitai has not one but two scenes depicting Arabs announcing their claim to Palestine. Israel's dramatic birth deserves better. Starring Helena Yaralova, Moni Moshonov and Juliano Merr. Directed and produced by Amos Gitai. Written by Amos Gitai and Marie-Jose Sanselme. A Kino release. Drama. Hebrew-, Arabic-, Polish- and Yiddish-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 100 min.

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