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Preview of Israeli Film Harmonia at Winnipeg International Film festival: 5 out of 5 stars

by Rhonda Spivak

I was really surprised at how good this gem of a  film is - It is a must see-5 out of 5 stars. The film is a story about two half brothers from different mothers, one Jewish and one Arab, and their quest to connect to each other . This rich and enchanting film, with exquisite classical music and gorgeous cinematography, explores the divide between Jews and Arabs  in Jerusalem, and is inspired by the biblical story from the book of Genesis of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. I won't give away it's emotionally uplifting ending

Sarah, a harpist of the Jerusalem Philharmonic is married to Abraham the conductor of the orchestra. But they have been unable to have children.  Hagar, a young Arab horn-player from East Jerusalem joins the Western side Orchestra, and the two women are irresistibly attracted to each other-they develop a friendship that is quite erotic.After Hagar is present when Sarah miscarries, she Hagar offers  to have a baby for Sarah from Abraham. When the baby , Ben,  is born, Hagar leaves the orchestra. and the newborn child with Sarah and Abraham.  Ben becomes a phenomenal pianist, but is  wild and unrestrained and resists all his parents efforts to  impose discipline upon him. . At the same time Sarah gets pregnant at her late forties, and gives birth to Isaac. When Isaac is 3, Hagar returns to the orchestra , but things are not the same since Hagar realizes that  Ben was never told the truth about the way he was brought to the world, and she now reveals it to Ben. This sets off a series of events, which make for a suspenseful and climatic ending. that leaves the speechless. It is through their musical talents that the two half brothers and the two mothers, who represent the two peoples, find harmony.

One of the most  the best parts of of this film is how it uses music to express the feelings and personalities of the different characters. Each plays a different instrument (Abraham’s instrument is the  the entire orchestra itself ) In 2001,the writer -director of Harmonia Ori Sivan directed a documentary about Klari Sarvash, the first harpist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2010, he filmed an intimate documentary of this same orchestra’s great maestro, conductor Zubin Mehta. Sivan's command of the orchestral world enriches the narrative, and  he uses Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade as a metaphor for Arab identity  throughout the film. 

You will not  regret seeing this film.

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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.