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November 17, 2005 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-11-17

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Arts & Entertainment

Real-life spouses

Michel Bat-Sheva

Rand and Shuli Rand

portray a Chasidic

couple in Ushpizin.





country, went to see it and loved it. They could-
n't believe it:'
The film opens Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the
Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield Township,
and the story of how this unlikely project came
about is as fascinating as the film itself.

Curt Schleier

Special to the Jewish News

Gidi Dar's


helps bridge
the divide
religious and


November 17 2005


fter a screening in Israel last year of his
movie Ushpizin, Israeli director Gidi
Dar was approached by the film critic
of a left-wing newspaper who told him,
"Thank you for letting me love them for an
hour and a half)
The "them" in this story is Israel's haredim.
Dar's affectionate portrayal of the fervently
Orthodox proved at least a temporary Band-
Aid to the festering wound that is the relation-
ship between Israel's secular and religious
Ushpizin, a story of faith and miracles, was
the highest grossing film in Israel in 2004 and,
at least according to its director, "the most
influential') one, as well.
"It's havihg a political effect in Israeli society
Secular people saw it and loved it.left-
wingers, the biggest Chasidic haters j4. .the •

No One Truth


Dar, 41, is a director of considerable repute.
He was born in Haifa of parents who helped
found the country. His father, Abraham, was
"one of the people who invented Mossad, a
major espionage hero:'
Dar's family wasn't religious but respected
the traditions of Judaism. There was Shabbat
dinner, and Dar celebrated a bar mitzvah.
Abraham "was not a believer at all, but he
, did bring us up in a way that we were not igno-
rant, we were not afraid of our own traditions:'
He pauses for a second and then quickly
adds,"Which we cannot say about many

Dar's first full-length feature, called Eddie
King, won the Bronze Leopard Award at the
Locarno Film Festival in 1992. It was about a
theater actor caught in a bizarre criminal plot
and starred Shuli Rand.
Soon after the film was released, Rand start-
ed to become more religious, first wearing a
yarmulke, then holding big holiday celebra-
Ultimately, Rand showed up at the director's
house in full Chasidic garb. Dar's reaction: "I
was more intrigued and interested [in the
change] than afraid of it.
"For me, no one is right , ) ) Dar recalls. "There
is no [one] truth. But when a friend of mine
changes so radically, it was interesting to me.
"It was the same guy, the same sense of
humor, the same eyes, but he took a different
road. The sad part for me was that he was a
great actor who would never act again:'

Affectionate on page 59

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