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Jane Enkin Previews Lady Titi on Sunday May 26 7:00 p.m. at the Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival 2019-A Funny Comedy

by Jane Enkin, janeenkinmusic.com, May 16, 2019

 

Lady Titi is a ridiculously funny Israeli comedy. The plot is at times preposterous, but it's always fun to hang in there and enjoy the ride.

 

Worko (Zvika Hizikias) is a dreamer, a singer with ambitions but not much success. When he gets in trouble with loan sharks, he runs to his mother's home in a small town, Israeli-Ethiopian neighbourhood. To avoid the bad guys, he ends up disguising himself as Titi, a glamourous, sexy woman. As Titi, Worko causes waves wherever he goes. He finds a job working for the outrageously racist, somewhat desperate director of a community centre (Lirit Balaban), and gets to know co-workers, especially his lovely office mate (Elsa Almo), as they publicize and deliver women's empowerment workshops.

 

I loved Hizikias' performance, in both his personas. He can do so much with a look, a walk or a flick of his long hair. Worko held my sympathy, even though I often found myself saying, “What a jerk!”, since he has no scruples about exploiting anyone who might get him out of a jam. On the other hand, he fearlessly stands up for others. It's fascinating to watch as Worko discovers his inner feminist.

 

There's lots of great character acting in the film; a whole neighbourhood worth of Israeli-Ethiopians and the other Israelis they interact with day by day. Most of them play broadly comic parts, but the actor who plays Worko's mother brings real fierceness and pathos to the role.

 

Lady Titi is an important event – it is the first commercial film to focus on the Israeli-Ethiopian community, with characters across a range of education and assimilation. The film was written and directed by Esti Almo Wexler, drawing on her experiences and observations as an Israeli-Ethiopian.

 

There is some serious background behind this comedy. Israeli-Ethiopians are still seen as a separate group by Israeli society, perpetually treated as newcomers. Their job prospects, finances and living conditions are lower than many other Israelis. The Israelis who surround them in the film express racism in both subtle and overt ways. The film also suggests that gender relations within the Israeli-Ethiopian community are fraught, with many women either objectified or meekly following their husbands' dictates.

 

The issues are clearly depicted in Lady Titi, but the emphasis is on comedy. Relax and have a great time with this delight.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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