Dancing in Jaffa 2.0 stars

Dancing in Jaffa movie poster

World-champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to the city his family was forced to leave in 1948 on a mission: to get Israeli Jewish kids and Israeli Palestinian kids to dance together. "When a human being dances with another human being, something happens," he attests at the outset. "You get to know that person." Maybe so, but it's a tricky business getting things underway: there are issues of religion (some of the Muslims don't want boys and girls dancing together), issues of culture ("My dad is a poor fisherman." vs. "My dad is a sperm bank donor."), and of course, issues of race and nationality. (One people's independence day is another people's catastrophe.) Finally, there is the fact that you're dealing with kids: not yet hardened in their differences, perhaps, but still very much aware of them. Also unsophisticated, thoughtless, and casually cruel. Director Hilla Medalia does an admirable job of showing the tensions involved; it would have been fascinating to see more about how they were resolved. Instead, we spend a lot of time building up to and covering the big dance contest at the end of the session, an event that is entirely irrelevant to the work Dulaine sets out to do. 2012.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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