From October Spotlight: Tzivi’s Guide to the 2011 Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema
My top pick in the Feature category this year is Restoration, a seemingly straightforward drama with deep resonance that is graced by two extraordinary performances.
Sasson Gabai (now internationally recognized as the beloved “Lieutenant-Colonel Tawfiq Zacharya” in The Band’s Visit), stars as “Yakov Fidelman,” co-owner of a small second-hand shop in Tel Aviv. For years, Fidelman’s partner “Malamud” bought used pieces of furniture and brought them back to Fidelman for repair, but now Malamud is dead, and Fidelman’s son wants him to sell the shop (more valuable for the land beneath it than for anything inside). The neighborhood is in the midst of gentrification, so why not take the money on offer and retire?
In walks “Anton” (Henry David) one day, and even though his carpentry skills are minimal, Fidelman hires him anyway, setting off a tense series of intergenerational confrontations. Inevitably secrets are revealed on both sides, but obliquely and with great restraint.
Tel Aviv, which recently celebrated its centennial as a world-class metropolis, is no longer the city of its founders. Which treasures will be salvaged and what might be lost forever in the crush of modernity?