Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hadas Ben Aroya's “People That Are Not Me” wins jury prize special mention at Créteil


By Moira Sullivan

The title of “People That Are Not Me” by young Israeli filmmaker Hadas Ben Aroya is intriguing for so many young women are like Joy, viscerally played by the filmmaker. Winner of the Jury Prize, special mention at Créteil Festival International de Films de Femmes 10-19 March, 2017.

The precociousness of youth is and is not wasted in this film, along with the spirit to experiment with stability and freedom in relationships.  Joy has just broken up with her boyfriend and becomes friends with Nir (Yonatan Bar- or ) and isn’t against dating other men. The focus of the film is on the passage of time by youth before establishment and also is about gender differences. The film comes close to not passing the “Bechdel Test” designed by Alison Bechdel. A film to pass the test requires two women with names who talk to each other about something other than men. In the scene that makes the film pass the test, Joy meets a woman at the bar of a nightclub she has frequented with Nir. Michal introduces herself to Joy, played by Israeli dance-theatre artist Hagar Onosh. Both women more or less have slept with Nir. Yet “People That Are Not Me” puts this test on alert because the film is overwhelmingly a stark portrait of a woman, and men are minor characters.

The “free” Nir seems fairly nerdy and it’s hard to see what Michal or Joy see in him. He is either busy on Facebook all day or working on his dissertation and spending time at the local nightclub. The fine print is that he is incapable of commitment which he willingly shares.

Joy works part time somewhere and spends her time on video art, and she can play a few chords on the guitar. Otherwise Ben Aroya’s film is a naked portrait of a frustrated woman whose emotions can be detected in every shot, a woman set up for failure in relationships, an engaging woman who is both tough and vulnerable surrounded by malcontents. The uncompromising intimacy scenes shown with regularity are raw and candid, just as every inch of Joy’s gestures and face - in every scene of the film.

The filmmaker has stated that the film is about the “non-unicorn” lives of her friends but they seem fairly common today in major cities such as San Francisco, Paris , London and Stockholm. The young people spend time in bars, have sex with each other, study and work in the modern arts or in web design. It is a universe of the youth scene in Tel Aviv that international audiences will be interested in learning about especially the introduction of this bold Israeli filmmaker.

Cinematographer Median Arama makes clean and uncompromising shots of interiors. Many of the scenes are along pedestrian lanes lined by cars and apartments, Joy’s apartment and the neighborhood nightclub. Arama’s use of confinement captures the mis en scène to convey just the right amount of distress for the characters, including a scene where Joy cathartically wrestles in bed with her ex-boyfriend. Editor Or- Lee Tal carefully arranges the shots, and it can be inferred that Hadas Ben Aroya stands for the production design. All three are students at the Steve Tisch School of Film at Tel Aviv University.

© 2017 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 04/05/17
Movie Magazine International

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