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God’s Neighbours (Hamashgihim) Israel / 2012

Filmmaker Meni Yaesh was the buzz of Cannes with this action film about a vigilante squad of young Jewish fundamentalists. Rather than favour brute force over substance, his debut feature is an unexpected character study that takes a markedly different approach to the debate over religious tolerance.

Kobi, Yaniv and gang leader Avi (Roy Assaf ) live in Bat-Yam, a suburb city close to Jaffa. They willfully use fists and baseball bats to enforce their Breslev code on the more relaxed Jews, as well as Arabs who dare disrupt the peace on the Sabbath.

One day, a new girl named Miri (Rotem Ziesman-Cohen) arrives. She is not familiar with the strict rules of modesty and immediately comes to blows with the gang, although Avi, unwillingly, falls in love with her. Soon, he is torn apart between his feelings for Miri and his dedication to his cause.

“As forceful as a kick in the jaw.” Variety


98 mins / Hebrew with English subtitles

Director — Meni Yaesh

Cast — Roy Assaf, Gal Friedman, Itzik Golan, Rotem Ziesman-Cohen

Awards — SACD Award Cannes Critics Week 2012 Best First Time Director Jerusalem Film Festival 2012 nine Ophir Award (‘Israeli Oscars’) nominations 2012