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by Rhonda Spivak, posted December 6, 2011

The Winnipeg Jewish Review just received a letter asking us to telling readers that beginning on December 9th, there is a film opening at the Globe Cinema in Winnipeg that  will be of interest .. "The Little Traitor" has been embraced by audiences all over the world and tells the story of a friendship between a British soldier and a young Jewish boy living in Palestine under the British Mandate right before Israel becomes a state.  Please check theater listing for show times.


Based on the novel "Panther in the Basement" by the world renowned author, Amos Oz, "Little Traitor" takes place in 1947 Palestine, just a few months before Israel becomes a state.

Proffy Liebowitz, a militant yet sensitive twelve year old, has grown up under British occupation and wants nothing more than for the occupying British to get out of his land. Proffy and his two friends are always plotting ways to terrorize the British until one evening, while he's out after curfew; Proffy is seized by Sergeant Dunlop (Alfred Molina).

Instead of arresting him, Sergeant Dunlop escorts him back home and a friendship begins to develop in the following weeks. Proffy starts to consider Dunlop a father figure, as his own father is cold and remote. Dunlop, lonely and poetic, loves the spirited boy and reads the Book of Samuel, Dunlap's favorite part of the Bible. Proffy helps Dunlap with his Hebrew while Dunlap teaches Proffy difficult English words and provides the fatherly guidance missing in Proffy's life.

As neighborhood tensions escalate between the British and the underground Jewish rebellion, their relationship becomes increasingly complicated. While Proffy has learned a great deal from his mentor, he is also shunned by his friends for this friendship and thus called a "traitor" by his neighbors and community. The resulting trial and shock that he could have such genuine affection for his "enemy" will change Proffy's life forever.

 PRAISE FOR “THE LITTLE TRAITOR” - Brandon K. Thorp, Palm Beach International Film Festival
“The Little Traitor is the rare political work that keeps its politics out of sight, where they belong. It's also the rare movie that seems to actually know what it's like in a kid's head. By keeping the cameras with Proffy — played with cunning sweetness by Israeli Ido Port — the film creates and maintains the contours of a child's archetypal summer. The days passing in “The Little Traitor” could go in any direction, and the commingled joy and dread in each is vivid, tactile, and totally inexplicable. The dread is surreal, like something out of Grimm, but that's just a question of perspective. Little Traitor takes place in British-occupied Palestine circa 1947, and the adults in the movie's background face a dread far more concrete than Proffy's. Though Israel is on the verge of statehood, there are still strict curfews in place, and British soldiers are likely to interrupt your dinner with a sudden house search. Sensing the zeitgeist, Proffy and his friends meet in secret and plan to blow up Englishmen. These are cute kids, and it feels weird hearing them scream, "Kill the British!" Rushing home one day after curfew, Proffy is apprehended by a gruff, mean-looking English soldier, Sergeant Dunlop. Threatening Proffy with arrest and whipping, and generally trying to scare him straight, Dunlop escorts him home and drops him off with his parents. Impressed by the kid's precocity, Dunlop tells Proffy to pay him a visit sometime, and the two become friends, talking about the Book of Daniel, language and girls. This all goes swimmingly until Proffy's friends find out. The grown-up Zionist hardliners in Proffy's neighborhood can't imagine anything as innocent as mere friendship springing up with a British imperialist; Proffy is informally labeled a traitor and his life becomes miserable. This business of putative enemies becoming buds would be insufferably cute if director Lynn Roth had tried to over-moralize the thing, but she doesn't. Proffy's just a kid, and Dunlop's just a guy — a preternaturally kind one, played with expansive good will by Alfred Molina. He's lonely, maybe a little too intellectual for the military life, and Proffy's a little too sensitive to be a good militant. If The Little Traitor is cute, it's not affectedly so — it gets there on the basis of a good, honest heart.”

LA Jewish Film Festival commemorates Israel's 60th Birthday at opening gala, May 8, 2008 premiere of “The Little Traitor.”

The film, “The Little Traitor,” directed and produced by Lynn Roth, is based on Amos Oz' novel, “Panther in the Basement,” and focuses on an exceptionally brilliant, precocious, spirited youth, Proffy, in 1947, right before Israel becomes a state. By a chance encounter with a British officer, brilliantly portrayed by Alfred Molina, the two build a close friendship that changes their lives forever.

In this work of passion and dedication, Lynn Roth declares her need to share important stories, events, and characters of depth, that led up to Israel's independence. As Proffy, played by Ido Port, a rising child star in Israel, bonds, and makes friends "with the enemy," (British soldier, Sergeant Dunlop, played by Molina); his peers and community consider him a "traitor," yet the relationship that ensues is truly the heart and soul of the film's storyline, and a true picture of humanity. The young star of the film brings an extraordinary freshness and sense of innocence to the screen, as his portrayal is sincere and natural, despite the quite demanding role for one his age.

Lynn Roth made a major effort to be loyal to Amos Oz's book, in depicting this story, and quite effectively captured the essence of the environment/atmosphere and accurately portrayed a pivotal time in Israel's history. It is both a coming of age story of young Proffy, exploring his interest in girls; bonding with male role models; as well as a semi-documentary with genuine footage of historic events at the time, when Israel was declared an independent state in 1948. The legendary Theodore Bikel, who plays a cameo role in the film, was honored at this evening's event, for his range of work within the Jewish community. Upon accepting this honor, Bikel spoke about the importance of presenting Jewish culture as a "living, breathing expression of a people-a need to be nurtured, not just an heirloom of our ancestors, hidden away in an attic.... Yesterday points to today, and then to tomorrow."

The LA Jewish Film Festival runs through May 15th, and each unique film screening is not only carefully selected, but "Chosen!"

VARIETY - Yes--Before Cannes
On p.75 of Variety's Cannes Film Festival issue, and leading off the Cannes Market Listings, is a terrific half-page picture of Alfred Molina and Ido Port in a poignant scene from "The Little Traitor." It screens May 14 in Cannes. We saw it at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival premiere May 8 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. The event also celebrated Israel's 60th anniversary. What perfect timing for the film which is set during Great Britai

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.