The Wooden Gun

91 Minutes, 1978
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Directed by: Ilan Moshenson
Cast: Arik Rosen, Ophelia Shtruhl, Judith Sole, Michael Kfir
Production:Eitan Evan, Richard Sanders, John Hardy
Production Company:Makor Films Inc.Hardy Sanders Motion Pictures
Photographer: Gadi Danzig
Original Music: Yossi Mar-Haim
Language: Hebrew
| Subtitles not available

Filmmaker Ilan Moshenson’s directorial debut is one of the first Israeli films to have ever tackled the Holocaust. Tel Aviv 1950 – two sparring youth gangs are at the height of their feud. Before long, all their war posturing and battlefield antics spiral out of the control: the youth, many of whom come from homes where both parents are hard-living Holocaust survivors who have only just made it out of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence – solve their conflicts just like their elders do – with violence and unmitigated brutality.
After Adi’s boys violate the gang code and go after Yoni when he’s on his own, breaking his arm, Yoni’s gang prepares to retaliate and builds a wooden gun. The escalating feud plays out against the backdrop of a nascent Israel’s third Independence Day celebrations, and the daily struggles and harrowing traumas of local residents: Yoni’s dad who fought in the War of Independence; his mum, who moved to Palestine just before the war and left all her family behind in Poland; and Palestina, a “bonkers” neighbour and Holocaust survivor.
When it’s time for the fateful showdown, the violence reaches a crescendo when Yoni turns the wooden gun on Adi. He later flees to the beach and finds shelter in Palestina’s shack where, plastered all over the walls, are photos of her family – all of whom died in the Holocaust. Yoni learns of long-silenced stories and suddenly has an epiphany about the present, but also the future – and the consequences of hate, cruelty, and violence.
The film was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival as part of the Generation section and was also featured at the Locarno Film Festival.

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