Everything seems in place for Israeli drama Bethlehem to be a compelling tale of betrayal in a time and place of conflict. The emotional central character is young Palestinian teenager Sanfur. The youth has been an informant for Israel’s secret service organisation Shin Bet since the age fifteen. His recruiter and contact is officer Razi, who also acts like a big brother toward the young man. Sanfur’s real brother, Ibrahim, is a Palestinian militant who Shin Bet wants to eliminate. Having an absent brother and a stern father, Sanfur has much trust in Razi. There is a scene in a hospital where Sanfur is getting treated for a gunshot wound. Razi has come to see him and Sanfur pleads with him to stay. The revealing scene shows the attachment between Sanfur and Razi. For his part Razi is conflicted between his mission as a Shin Bet officer get to Ibrahim, and a strong desire to protect his protegé. A labyrinthine script that mirrors the complexity of those conflicts. Witter Yuval Adler and Ali Waked interviewed Shin Bet operatives and militants from Palestinian groups al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and Hamas. Non professional first time actors were chosen and that creates an air of authenticity. A scene in which Palestinian villagers are throwing rocks at Shin Bet agents seems real because the extras were reenacting what they experienced every day. In the few scenes they have together Shadi Mar’i (Sanfur) and Tsahi Halevi (Razi) show the painful tenderness the characters are feeling toward each other. Despite and because of that, they are driven toward a violent but inescapable ending. Powerful.

Rémi-Serge Gratton




Directed by: 
Yuval Adler
Screenplay by: 
Yuval Adler
Ali Wakad
Tshai Halevi
Shadi Mar’i
Hitham Omari
Michal Shtamler
Tarik Kopty
99 min.
Rated 14A
In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

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