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Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema

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Back for a second year, this two-week festival showcases films across a broad spectrum of Israeli society, with screenings October 18 through 28 at Pipers Alley, Wells at North, and the Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central, Wilmette. All are 2006 releases in Hebrew with subtitles. Following are highlights of the first week; for more information call 847-675-3378 or visit www.chicagofestivalofisraelicinema.org.

The opening night feature is Oded Davidoff's smartly paced Someone to Run With (118 min.), a gritty urban drama based on the novel by David Grossman. A teenage street singer in Jerusalem (newcomer Bar Belfer) searches for her drug-addicted brother, who's being held prisoner by a thug (Tzahi Grad of Jellyfish) using runaways as cover for his drug operation (Thu 10/18, 7:30 PM, Pipers Alley). Belfer holds her own against Grad, who won the Ophir (Israel's Oscar) for his supporting role; he can also be seen in Uri Barbash's dark, absorbing heist caper Salt of the Earth (114 min.), as one of four army reservists who exact their revenge against a Russian loan shark. Israeli heartthrob Lior Ashkenazi (Late Marriage, Walk on Water) costars as the police detective hot on their trail (Thu 10/25, 8:30 PM, Wilmette).

Directed by Nati Adler, the TV movie Kululush (80 min.) is a downbeat domestic drama about gambling, soccer, and sibling rivalry, intriguing mostly for its look at the vibrant Sephardic Iraqi-Israeli neighborhood in Tel Aviv (Sun 10/21, 2 PM, Pipers Alley). Dror Shaul's semiautobiographical Sweet Mud (98 min.) recounts a boy's tough life with his unstable single mom on a kibbutz in the 1970s. It won the Ophir for best picture, but it's too caustic, unforgiving, and over the top for me (Sat 10/20, 7:30 PM, Pipers Alley; also Tue 10/23, 8:30 PM, Wilmette). This week's real crowd-pleaser is Hanan Peled's bittersweet coming-of-age story Dear Mr. Waldman (90 min.), about a ten-year-old who uses all his ingenuity to help heal his Holocaust-survivor parents (Sun 10/21, 7 PM, Pipers Alley; also Wed 10/24, 6:30 PM, Wilmette). --Andrea Gronvall

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Dear Mr. Waldman.

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