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Tel Aviv on Fire

Rated Parental Guidance (Coarse Language) ~ Runs 97 minutes

Dir.: Sameh Zoabi, Luxembourg/Belgium/Israel/France, 2019

Kais Nashif, Lubna Azabal, Yaniv Biton
In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles


Venice Film Festival winner, Best Picture and Best Actor

“Tel Aviv on Fire, a delightfully satiric take on the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire, revolves around a third-rate soap opera and a border checkpoint where creativity - and helpings of hummus - trump ethnic conflict. It’s a well-acted movie with both a funny bone and a sense of humanity. The unlikely hero is the underachieving Salam, a Palestinian who serves as a gofer for the trashy soap opera only because his uncle is a bigwig on the production. A resident of Israel, Salam commutes to the West Bank filming location to make sure that the Hebrew dialogue for the Arab show, set during the Six-Day War of 1967, makes a modicum of sense. Salam’s line suggestions during the filming are awkward, but his lanky figure catches the eye of soap star Tala (Lubna Azabal, hilarious), the reigning diva of Arab television. In no time at all, Salam is appointed as the head writer, but there is a problem: He has barely held a job, let alone written a word of a teleplay. After an amusing security mix-up during his daily trek to the border, Salam finds a lifeline in Israeli commander Assi, who soon helps the befuddled Salam come up with some juicy lines for his script. Though Assi’s suggestions tilt way too Zionist for a Palestinian show, the commander’s penchant for creative drama rescues Salam - and makes him a rock-star writer on the set. Needless to say, this situation creates a host of complications for Salam... Tel Aviv on Fire remains charming throughout. Director Sameh Zoabi relies on the old adage that we have more in common than not, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating - particularly when laughs come with it.” - David Lewis, Datebook



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May 24