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David Rehman
David Rehman

Matana MiShamayim: A Cult Classic of Israeli Cinema


Matana MiShamayim (2003) updated: A Review of the Israeli Drama Film




Matana MiShamayim, which means "A Gift from Above" in Hebrew, is a 2003 Israeli drama film directed by Dover Kosashvili. The film tells the story of a Judaeo-Georgian community living in Israel, who are involved in a plot to steal diamonds from the airport. The film was nominated for 11 Ophir Awards, the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars, and received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of a marginalized and secretive culture.




Matana MiShamayim (2003) | updated



What is Matana MiShamayim about?




The film follows the lives of six or seven families who live in the same blocks that surround a parking lot. They speak a rare dialect of Judaeo-Georgian, a language spoken by Jews who migrated from Georgia to Israel. They are very close-knit and pressure each other to marry within their community. They also have little regard for the law and work in the luggage department of Ben Gurion Airport, where they help each other to steal passengers' suitcases.


The main character is Zaza (Yuval Segal), a young man who is engaged to Lili (Ania Bukstein), a beautiful girl from his community. However, he is secretly in love with Judith (Ronit Yudkevitz), a divorced mother who lives in another block. Zaza's father, Yasha (Moni Moshonov), is the leader of the community and the mastermind behind the diamond heist. He plans to use two volunteers from his group, Shlomo (Rami Heuberger) and Avinoam (Lior Ashkenazi), as scapegoats for the crime.


The film depicts the complex relationships and conflicts among the characters, as well as their struggles with identity, tradition, love and loyalty. It also shows the contrast between their rich folklore and their poor living conditions, and between their vibrant parties and their violent acts.


Why is Matana MiShamayim worth watching?




Matana MiShamayim is a rare film that offers a glimpse into a hidden and fascinating culture that is rarely seen on screen. The film uses authentic dialogue in Judaeo-Georgian and Hebrew, and most of the cast had to learn the language for their roles. The film also features original music by Ioseb Bardanashvili, a Georgian composer who blends traditional and modern elements.


The film is also a gripping drama that keeps the viewers engaged with its twists and turns. The film explores themes such as family, identity, morality, betrayal and redemption. The film does not shy away from showing the dark side of the community, but also reveals their humanity and humor. The film has been praised for its realistic and nuanced portrayal of the characters, who are neither heroes nor villains, but complex and flawed human beings.


Where can I watch Matana MiShamayim?




Matana MiShamayim was released in December 2003 in Israel and later screened at various international film festivals. The film is available on VOD on the website for the Israel Film Archive - Jerusalem Cinematheque. You can also find it on YouTube with English subtitles.


If you are looking for a unique and captivating film that will take you to a different world, Matana MiShamayim is a great choice. You will not regret watching this gem of Israeli cinema.


Who are the actors and filmmakers behind Matana MiShamayim?




Matana MiShamayim features a talented cast of Israeli actors, some of whom are well-known in their country and abroad. The main actors are:


  • Yuval Segal as Zaza, the protagonist who is torn between his love for Judith and his loyalty to his community. Segal is a versatile actor who has appeared in films such as Beaufort (2007), Lebanon (2009) and The Attack (2012).



  • Rami Heuberger as Bakho, Zaza's best friend and partner in crime. Heuberger is a veteran actor who has starred in films such as Nina's Tragedies (2003), The Debt (2007) and The Other Story (2018).



  • Moni Moshonov as Yasha, Zaza's father and the leader of the community. Moshonov is a legendary actor and comedian who has won several awards for his roles in films such as Late Marriage (2001), Lost Islands (2008) and A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015).



  • Lior Ashkenazi as Ottari, one of the volunteers for the diamond heist. Ashkenazi is one of the most popular and acclaimed actors in Israel, who has starred in films such as Walk on Water (2004), Footnote (2011) and Foxtrot (2017).



  • Ania Bukstein as Marina, Zaza's fiancée who is unaware of his affair. Bukstein is a beautiful and talented actress who has appeared in films such as The Secrets (2007), Rabies (2010) and Game of Thrones (2016).



The film was written and directed by Dover Kosashvili, who is himself a Judaeo-Georgian immigrant to Israel. Kosashvili is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has made other films such as Late Marriage (2001), Infiltration (2010) and The Exchange (2011).


What are some interesting facts about Matana MiShamayim?




Here are some interesting facts about Matana MiShamayim that you may not know:


  • The film was partly inspired by Kosashvili's own experience as a Judaeo-Georgian immigrant to Israel. He said: "I wanted to make a film about my community, about the people I know, about their way of life, their language, their culture."



  • The film was shot on location in Lod, a city near Tel Aviv that has a large Judaeo-Georgian population. The film used real locations and people from the community as extras.



  • The film was nominated for 11 Ophir Awards, but did not win any. However, it won other awards such as the Audience Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Best Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival.



  • The film was praised by critics for its authenticity and realism. However, it also faced some controversy and criticism from some members of the Judaeo-Georgian community, who felt that it portrayed them in a negative and stereotypical way.



How does Matana MiShamayim reflect the Judaeo-Georgian culture?




Matana MiShamayim is a film that reflects the Judaeo-Georgian culture, which is a unique and ancient culture that dates back to the 6th century BC. The Judaeo-Georgians are Jews who migrated from Georgia to Israel in different waves, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s. They have preserved their language, traditions, customs and folklore, which are distinct from both the Georgian and the Israeli cultures.


The film shows some aspects of the Judaeo-Georgian culture, such as:


  • The language: The film uses authentic dialogue in Judaeo-Georgian, which is a dialect of Georgian that has been influenced by Hebrew, Aramaic and Turkish. The language is spoken by about 60,000 people in Israel and about 20,000 people in Georgia.



  • The music: The film features original music by Ioseb Bardanashvili, a Georgian composer who blends traditional and modern elements. The music reflects the Judaeo-Georgian musical heritage, which is rich in polyphony, harmony and rhythm.



  • The folklore: The film depicts the Judaeo-Georgian folklore, which is full of stories, legends, proverbs and jokes. The folklore expresses the values, beliefs and humor of the community.



  • The customs: The film portrays the Judaeo-Georgian customs, such as the wedding rituals, the funeral rites, the circumcision ceremonies and the religious practices. The customs are influenced by both Judaism and Georgian Orthodoxy.



What is the message of Matana MiShamayim?




Matana MiShamayim is a film that has a message for both the Judaeo-Georgian community and the wider society. The message is about the challenges and dilemmas of living in a multicultural and modern world, while preserving one's identity and roots.


The film shows the conflicts that arise from the clash between tradition and change, between loyalty and betrayal, between love and duty. The film also shows the consequences of living in isolation and marginalization, as well as the potential for integration and cooperation.


The film invites the viewers to empathize with the characters, who are neither heroes nor villains, but complex and flawed human beings. The film also encourages the viewers to appreciate and respect the diversity and difference of cultures, while also recognizing their common humanity.


How does Matana MiShamayim compare to other Israeli films?




Matana MiShamayim is a film that stands out among other Israeli films for its originality, authenticity and realism. The film is one of the few Israeli films that focuses on a minority group within the Israeli society, and shows their culture, language and lifestyle in detail. The film also avoids the common themes and topics that dominate most Israeli films, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Holocaust, the military service and the religious-secular divide.


The film is also different from other Israeli films in terms of its genre, style and tone. The film is a mix of crime thriller, social drama, love story and comedy, and it balances between tragedy and humor, between realism and fantasy, between violence and romance. The film has a unique aesthetic that combines naturalistic cinematography, colorful costumes, lively music and expressive acting.


The film is a rare example of a cult classic in Israeli cinema, that has gained a loyal fan base over the years. The film is considered by many critics and viewers as one of the best Israeli films ever made, and as a masterpiece of world cinema.


What is the conclusion of Matana MiShamayim?




Matana MiShamayim is a film that concludes with a surprising and shocking twist that changes everything. The film reveals that Zaza's father, Yasha, who planned the diamond heist, was actually working as an undercover agent for the police. He used his own community as a cover and as a bait to catch a bigger fish: a notorious Georgian mafia boss who was behind the diamond smuggling. Yasha sacrificed his own son, Zaza, who was arrested along with his friends for the crime.


The film ends with a scene that shows Yasha visiting Zaza in prison. Yasha tries to explain his motives and to ask for forgiveness, but Zaza refuses to listen or to speak to him. Zaza turns his back on his father and walks away. The film leaves the viewers with a sense of ambiguity and sadness, as they wonder about the fate of Zaza and his community.


Matana MiShamayim (2003) updated: A Summary and Recommendation




Matana MiShamayim, or A Gift from Above, is a 2003 Israeli drama film that tells the story of a Judaeo-Georgian community living in Israel, who are involved in a plot to steal diamonds from the airport. The film is written and directed by Dover Kosashvili, who is himself a Judaeo-Georgian immigrant to Israel. The film features a talented cast of Israeli actors, who speak authentic dialogue in Judaeo-Georgian and Hebrew. The film also features original music by Ioseb Bardanashvili, a Georgian composer who blends traditional and modern elements.


The film is a rare and captivating film that offers a glimpse into a hidden and fascinating culture that is rarely seen on screen. The film also delivers a gripping drama with complex and flawed characters, who face challenges and dilemmas of living in a multicultural and modern world. The film explores themes such as family, identity, morality, betrayal and redemption. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised its originality, authenticity and realism. The film has also faced some controversy and criticism from some members of the Judaeo-Georgian community, who felt that it portrayed them in a negative and stereotypical way.


The film is available on VOD on the website for the Israel Film Archive - Jerusalem Cinematheque. You can also find it on YouTube with English subtitles. If you are looking for a unique and captivating film that will take you to a different world, Matana MiShamayim is a great choice. You will not regret watching this gem of Israeli cinema. ca3e7ad8fd


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