|DANCING IN JAFFA (director/writer: Hilla Medalia; screenwriter: Philip Shane; cinematographer: Daniel Kedem; editors: Philip Shane/Bob Eisenhardt; music: Krishna Levy/Issar Shulman; cast: Pierre Dulaine, Yvonne Marceau, Noor Gabai, Alaa Bubali, Lois Dana; Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Diane Nabatoff/Neta Zwebner-Zaibert/Hilla Medalia; IFC Films; 2014-Israel/USA-in English/Arabic/Hebrew, with English subtitles)|
social conscious film about dancing used to
promote positive attitudes."
by Dennis Schwartz
("Web Junkie"/"To Die in Jerusalem"/"Happy
You're Alive"), an Israeli, directs this
cautiously optimistic social conscious film about
dancing used to promote positive attitudes by teaching
Jewish and Palestinian children to dance together. Internationally
renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine (Irish
soldier father and a French Palestinian mother) returns
to his hometown of Jaffa (a suburb of Tel Aviv) and
over a ten-week period tries to work his Dancing
Classroom magic on the divided religious community.
Pierre's family left Jaffa in 1948, after the war,
when he was only four, to live in the United States. Yvonne
Marceau, Pierre's elegant former dance partner, is
recruited to help in the lessons.
reluctant 11-year-old children are recruited from five
local schools (two Palestinian-Israeli, two
Jewish-Israeli and a fifth, an integrated one).
The students are made to confront issues of their
life-long prejudices by dancing ballroom dances
together (such as rhumbas, tangos and
merengues). We are shown how through the
universal language of dance such hatreds and rigid
attitudes can change for the better. Problem is the
two groups have built-in barriers against coming
together and many resist the efforts of the
well-meaning instructor. Those that don't, find the
dance program to be a success despite all the mishaps.
director follows three students: Noor Gabai,
the angry Palestinian; Alaa Bubali, a quiet
impoverished Palestinian boy and Lois Dana, an
open-minded and outgoing Jewish girl.
the simplistic but well-crafted and well-intended film
confirms, is that the issues are complex and it will
take more than dancing lessons to bring the two
antagonistic groups peacefully together. Nevertheless,
I guess, it doesn't hurt trying to
improve things by at least taking these baby first
REVIEWED ON 11/19/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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