Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Israel Film Festival Spotlight: Sky Raiders

I’ve had the privilege of screening a number of selections from the Israel Film Festival, which serves as a showcase for the best Israeli films each year. The 34rd Israel Film Festival takes place online this year from December 13th-27th, 2020.

Sky Raiders
Directed by Lior Chefetz
Ticket Information

The imagination of children is a marvelous thing, and can lead to their ability to fathom concepts that adults would dismiss as unrealistic and impossible. In many cases, it’s true that what a child might dream up isn’t attainable in real life, and as they get older, they’ll outgrow that sense of hopefulness and replace it with something that more closely mirrors what they can actually achieve. But there are also some who are so determined to see their visions realized that they can impress people with much more life experience and do something truly extraordinary.

Yotam (Amir Tessler) moves with his mother (Riki Blich) to a new place after the death of his pilot father. Though he is initially nervous to talk to her, he soon befriends Noa (Hila Natanzon), who, like Yotam, is fascinated by planes. She isn’t allowed to do much by her father (Nathan Ravitz) and cruel brother Ofer (Dor Harari), who are preparing for an Independence Day flight, but she and Yotam find an old plane used at the beginning of Israel’s existence that they decide they would like to restore. Their run-in with a local hermit, Morris (Arie Tcherner), reveals an unexpected ally who may be able to help them transform this piece of history into something they can truly make their own.

There is a wonderful spirit of adventure present in this film, one communicated most vividly by the way that Yotam and Noa look to the sky and admire the sight of planes flying. They both idealize those who have been able to serve as pilots and had the chance to see the world from above. Learning that Morris was, years earlier, a pilot only adds to that excitement, which is in turn dampened by Noa’s father’s belief that she should focus on other things and Yotam’s mother’s concern that he will be put in danger if he goes near planes. As is often the case with children, being told that they can’t do something only further encourages them.

This may be billed as a film for children, but it’s a piece of entertainment that should delight audience of all ages. Its two young stars, Tessler and Natanzon, demonstrate plenty of personality as they explore their main interest while navigating family dynamics and the normal pressures of childhood. Tcherner is at first gruff and then very endearing, helping to guide his eager apprentices as they devote all their time to returning their beloved find to its former glory. This film’s narrative contains a good deal of familiar elements which all combine to create a lighthearted and truly enjoyable cinematic experience.


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