Dekel Berenson

Project Name:

ALIYA

Producer:

Paul Wesley, Marek Rozenbaum, Alexander Rodnyansky

Country:

Israel

Year of lab participation:

2021

Lab edition:

9

Logline

Aliya, an 18-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, finds meaning in her recently discovered Jewish identity and patriotism towards her newly adopted country. Training to become a drill sergeant in the Israeli army, she finds it hard to go on with her life, and considers her role in society, and in training young men in the military.

Synopsis

Aliya, an 18-year-old recent immigrant from Ukraine, finds meaning in her newly discovered Jewish identity and in feelings of patriotism towards her adopted country. Wanting to do her share, she had volunteered to join the Israeli army and now trains to become a drill instructor, where she learns how to turn just out of high-school teenagers into toughened IDF soldiers. Still new in the country and unfamiliar with the nuances of Israeli society, she struggles to fit in and finds herself increasingly isolated, particularly as she intends on being the best soldier in the course. After weeks of intense physical and psychological training at the desert base, her company receives seventy-two hours leave, and Aliya returns to her family in Tel Aviv. At home, Aliya is confronted by her mother, who is much less enthusiastic than her about the family's move to Israel, and especially with her daughter's decision to join the military. Determined to have fun, Aliya heads into the city for a night out but ends up being assaulted by her date. After a turbulent and unsettling weekend at home, Aliya must return to the military base but struggles to complete her course as she re-evaluates her values, beliefs, and place in Israeli society.

Director’s Note

In many ways, Aliya is an autobiographical film. I left my home country of Israel at the age of 21, days after completing my mandatory three years of service in the Israeli Defense Forces. The reasons I left are complex, yet they primarily have to do with my disenchantment with many of the values and beliefs I was brought up with, both social and political. Inversely, Aliya, who discovered as a teenager that she was Jewish, immigrates to Israel with her family so she could join the military. In its heart, deeply personal, Aliya is a coming of age story, yet it is one that also encapsulates the narrative of an entire country, in which interpersonal relationships are a metaphor for violence between nations and people. A militarized country, one which is in a constant state of war, is inherently violent, not only towards its adversaries but towards its own people as well. Put simply, the violence one inflicts upon others always ends up being inflicted upon oneself. While taking place in Israel, Aliya is a universally important and timely film that touches on themes that concern all people, regardless of race, gender, or background. Moreover, it is a story that is personal to me, and a strong reflection of my values as they relate to nationalism, religion, hierarchies, authority, and power. These are themes that I’ve explored for almost two decades, since my days in Budapest studying towards a Master’s degree in International Relations. I hope that by turning these cerebral ideas into film, audiences all over the world will gain insight not only into the double-edged nature of violence in the Middle East as it manifests itself in the lives of Israelis, but in their personal lives as well, whoever they are, and wherever they may be

Director-writer

Dekel Berenson is an Israeli born writer, director, and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His film Anna premiered in Competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, won the Best British Short Film award at the 22nd BIFA awards, and was shortlisted for a BAFTA. His short Ashmina won numerous prizes, including Best Short Film at the 59th Krakow Film Festival and Best Live Action Short at the 36th Jerusalem Film Festival, qualifying the film for Academy Awards.

Producer profile

Marek Rozenbaum, Producer, Israel

Marek Rozenbaum holds a degree in Social work and Film from the Tel Aviv University. He has directed 2 films and produced over 40 feature films and international co-productions, among them award-winning films that have received worldwide recognition. Mr. Rozenbaum is the recipient of five Ophir Best Film Awards. He served as Chairman of Israel's Film and Television Producers Association and today is a Member of its Board as well as chairing the Israeli Academy of Film and Television for a decade

Production company profile

Transfax Film Productions was established in 1989 as an independent production company specializing in feature film production and co-production. The company has produced over 40 feature films and international co-productions -many winning international prizes including Keren Yedaya’s Or (Camera D’or)& That Lovely Girl, and A Strange Course of Events by Raphael Nadjari (Quinzaine des Realisateurs) and Our Father by Meni Yaish.


Production Company

Transfax, Tel Aviv, Israel

marek@transfax.co.il

+972 50 523 8766

Production Budget

$1,400,000

Genre:

Drama

Language:

Hebrew and Russian