The depth of talent in “Little Israel“ never ceases to amaze me. This year my top picks for both Best Actor (Roy Assaf of God’s Neighbors) and Best Actress (Asia Naifeld of Room 514) are starring in lead roles for the very first time…
My Best Actor pick for 2013 is Roy Assaf who plays “Avi” in God’s Neighbors. I saw him once before in Keren Yedaya’s film Jaffa (shown at CFIC 2010) but to be honest, I didn’t remember him.
This time though he commands the screen as a young man drawn into an increasingly ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. His father is concerned; this isn’t the way Avi was raised, but since his mother’s death, religion has become his consolation. And yet the men he studies with during the week seem to be turning into neighborhood thugs every weekend as the self-appointed “guardians” (mashgiachim) of Shabbat. Where will it end?
God’s Neighbors received NINE Ophir Award nominations from the Israel Film Academy last year, & won THREE (including a stunning win for Roy Assaf in the Best Actor category with heavy competition), something I did not know when I slipped my DVD screener out of its envelope last month. It is also doing very well on the international film festival circuit (where it has already won awards in Cannes, Hamburg & Reykjavik as well as Jerusalem).
Meni Yaesh (the writer/director of God’s Neighbors) has made a feature film debut of stunning empathy and great relevance. Bravo!
Click HERE to learn more about filmmaker Meni Yaesh.
Top Photo: Roy Assaf as “Avi,” a young man with a troubled soul.
Bottom Photo: Avi (right) with his Rabbi.
NOTE: Filmmaker Meni Yaesh provides no name for the Rabbi in his press kit, but he does say this: “The Rabbi was an actor before being a Rabbi. He played in big TV shows in Israel before becoming religious. He’s not acting any more but he sings. He has a new album right now. The part he plays in the movie is 100 % him.” So be it.
Photo Credits: Meni Yaesh.