Ariana

1 hour and 29 Minutes and 23 seconds , 1971
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Directed by: George Obadiah
Cast: Dassi Hadari, Avi Toledano, Yitzhak Shiloh, Arieh Elias, Gabi Amrani, Tova Pardo
Kohava gets pregnant by a high-profile solicitor who wants nothing to do with her or the baby. Shortly after childbirth, she dies and her orphaned daughter ends up raised by the Mizrahis – a couple who live in the slums of Jaffa. Twenty years later and that baby, Ariana, is now a fully-grown, beautiful young woman. One night, at a party, she meets Gaddi Daniely – son of a wealthy Ashkenazi industrialist. The two fall in love but Gaddi’s father is adamant that his son not marry a working class girl. It is around this melodramatic premise that George Obadiah delivers his second, Israeli feature-length motion picture. The film bears all the markers of the then-immensely popular working class comedy/melodrama film genre (aka Bourekas films) – from the ethnic and classist tensions, to the search for an Israeli common denominator which, of course culminates in a wedding. And whilst the dialogue may be cringeworthy, the storylines rough around the edges, and the directing uninspired, the film is not without its saving graces: the camerawork that seamlessly moves from the drama to atmospheric vista shots and back; the use of music that enhances the soundtrack with several notable moments of Middle Eastern and Arabic music, and some truly excellent performances by a stellar cast – especially the ever-graceful, larger than life Arieh Elias who infuses every scene with humanity and innate talent.
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