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HAMSIN(aka: EASTERN WIND) (aka: HOT WIND) (director/writer: Daniel Wachsmann; screenwriters: Jacob Lifshin/Dan Verete; cinematographer: David Gurfinkel; editor: Levi Zini; music: Raviv Gazit; cast: Shlomo Tarshish(Gedalia Birmann, Jewish Landowner), Hemda Levy(Hava), Ruth Geller(Malka Birmann), Shawaf Yassin (Haled, Arab Worker); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jacob Lifshin; Ergo Media; 1982-Israel-in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles)
“Controversial contemporary drama on Arab and Jewish relations.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Daniel Wachsmann (“Transit”) sets his controversial contemporary drama on Arab and Jewish relations on the Israeli-Arab border, in Galilee, in Northern Israel, in a small unnamed farming village. Ambitious Jewish farmerGedalia Birmann (Shlomo Tarshish) employs the young loyal Arab laborer Haled (Shawaf Yassin), and has good relations with his Arab landowner neighbor. The always strained but peaceful relationship between Jews and Arabs becomes tense when the Israeli government decides to confiscate Arab land. The distrust between the two groups leads to property destroyed on Gedalia’s farm and Arab workers barred from attending the village movie theater. Things are complicated further when Gedalia’s sister Hava (Hemda Levy) returns home from studying music in Jerusalem and begins an illicit love affair with Haled. Such tensions lead to tragic results, as hostility and violence now destroys old Arab-Jewish friendships.

This uncompromising, thought-provoking, liberal argument put forth by the Israeli filmmaker upset many in the Jewish community by placing so much blame on their government for the Arab violence. The film does a good job in conveying the tense situation as a microcosm of what’s happening in the country and showing how the ordinary people on both sides are already separated by religion and culture can be even more affected by narrow-minded government decisions. The flaws in the film are in its clumsy way of disclosing tensions and its heavy-handed romance. But the film’s importance cannot be denied. It makes a valiant effort to show a more balanced picture of what’s happening on the ground and is not diminished by its filming weaknesses.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”