A Film by: Eyal Halfon
(Israel, 1998, 90 Minutes, Color, Hebrew, English subtitles, Cast: Yoram Hatav, Evgenia Dudina, Amos Lavi, Basaam Zuamot, Vladimir Friedman)
A story about freedom, autonomy, car thieves, gorgeous blondes, a soldier who dreams about Tom Jones and an aging lion who decides he’s fed up with it all and is going out to find a lioness to spend the night with.
Once upon a time (and this really happened), a small circus from Eastern Europe came to the Holy Land, where every hardship in the world landed on its tattered tent: soaring debts, sick animals and runaway clowns. Eventually the circus owners had a hard time finding an audience or a place to raise their own magnificent tent. This is the point where the story and the huge circus begins.
Ibrahim Sus, a despised Palestinian entrepreneur, suggests that Yermin, the circus manager, brings his rapidly shrinking business to a completely different place, the likes of which the circus has never seen in all its travels. Several minutes after the story begins, the circus caravans are already rolling towards a tiny, picturesque and wretched village on the West Bank. Until that day, the village’s main claim to fame was selling spare auto parts from the best and fastest stolen cars that landed in the Occupies Territories.
Schweik, the lion, is not able to supress his animal instincts, and escapes a moment before he is to appear on opening night. Those who understand lions say he ran away in order to get laid. Those who really love Schweik understand that the escaped to enjoy a small taste of freedom.
Israeli Sgt Major Samson Bleiberg, Mariana, the lion tamer and a small Arab boy named Fathi “Dayan”, set out in search of the lost lion. The threesome’s dreams run up against a reality in which people go crazy over the wrong flags, and have no room for lions going out for a stroll.
"Any Israeli film maker knows to stay clear of Palestinian issue, yet scriptwriter & director Eyal Halfon delivered just that, and made a great comedy out of it, no less…" - Flore de Preneuf - L.A Times
“A brave, bold satire on the state of the Israeli/ Palestinian borderland, making wry capital out of the old political notion of ‘bread and circuses’ “. - Dublin Film Festival
“Winner of five Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1998, Eyal Halfon’s film tackles a difficult subject – Israeli-Palestinian relations on the West Bank – in a wholly unexpected way. Rather than couch his point of view in the terms of an earnest social drama, he successfully opts for a more controversial approach – he manages to skewer both sides with a sharp satire that is by turns intelligent critique and laugh-out-loud comedy”. - Vancouver International Film Festival
AWARDS, FESTIVALS & SCREENINGS
• Winner of the Israeli Academy award for best script & best film (1999)
• Vancouver International Film Festival
• Santa Monica Film Festival
• Hong Kong Int’l Film Festival
• Seattle Film Festival
• Denver Jewish Film Festival
• Warsaw Film Festival
• Film Festival of Med Cultures, Bastia
• International Film Festival, Bratislava (competition section)
• Mediterranean Film Review
• Dublin Film Festival