Light Out of Nowhere

92 Minutes, 1973
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Directed by: Nissim Dayan
Cast: Nissim Levy, Shlomo Bassan, Abie Saltzberg, Esther Eshed
Production:Yaackov Elkov
Production Company:Shabazi Films
Photographer: Samuel Calderon
Language: Hebrew
Subtitles: English, Hebrew

In his film debut, director Nissim Dayan offers an alternative to the ‘low-brow’ working class melodramas and comedies (aka ‘bourekas films’) that dominated Israeli film in the early 1970s, and in which Jewish Mizrahi* (*Middle Eastern and North African) protagonists were regularly given grotesque and ethnically stereotypical portrayals. Dayan’s film follows a distinctly Italian neorealist aesthetic and is shot in the local slums, using an all-amateur cast. The film paints a loving, compassionate portrait of an altogether different kind of Mizrahi protagonist – one of psychological depth and nuance who is trying to rise against the hopeless reality – a type of protagonist who, in those days, was all but non-existent onscreen. Introverted 17-year-old Saul has come home from boarding school to stay at his hard-living father’s flat in the South Tel Aviv slums where struggling residents are trapped in a life of unemployment and crime. Meanwhile Baruch, Saul’s brother, tries to lure him into a life of crime.

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