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HIDE AND SEEK (Machboim) (director/writer: Dan Wolman; screenwriter: Avi Cohen; cinematographer: Ilan Rosenberg; editor: Shosh Wolman; music: Amnon Wolman; cast: Gila Almagor (Mother), Benyamin Armon, Chaim Hadaya, Efrat Lavie; Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jeffrey Justin/Dan Wolman; Ergo Media; 1980-Israel-in Hebrew with English subtitles)
“Gripping coming-of-age drama set in Jerusalem in 1946.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dan Wolman (“The Distance”) is director and co-writer with Avi Cohen of this gripping coming-of-age drama set in Jerusalem in 1946, two years before Israel became an independent country (Both Jews and the Arabs lived in Palestine under the British rule from 1917 to 1948). Wolman has said it was in parts autobiographical. It tells of the twelve-year-old Uri living with his amiable but ineffective grandpa, while dad is in America raising money with a Jewish agency to buy weapons for the Zionist cause and mom works with a Jewish agency in Europe helping orphans from the death camps find homes in Palestine. Though bright, Uri is unable to sit still long enough to study for his school exams and runs wildly around with a pack of spoiled children playing childish games (such as war games where they fight the Arabs and the British) and doing some petty mischief to their neighbor’s property (using berries to smear their faces to make it look like blood for their war games). A young private tutor named Balaban is hired, whom Uri at first treats rudely. But the sensitive Balaban, who is scheduled to be a regular teacher in the school for the next year, bonds with the troubled youngster and gets him to concentrate on his studies. One day while the children are running around in the park, they spot Balaban talking with a young Arab. They immediately suspect he’s a collaborator with the British rulers, as the underground has put out the word there’s an informer amongst them. When they catch the two together again, they report Balaban to the underground. The underground finds the two in bed making love and administers a severe beating to both, which Uri observes and realizes he made a mistake–that his tutor was only interested in romance not spying.

It’s a cautionary moral tale that’s well-acted, and makes its point about jumping to wrong conclusions too fast when not knowing all the facts and that being intolerant of others can lead to an inhuman attitude. The film was controversial in Israel because of its tolerant stance to Arabs and gays, and its questioning of war as being the only solution.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”