Friday, May 6, 2011
Israeli Nature Documentary Visually Striking
WILD IN THE HOLY LAND: A scene from the Israeli nature documentary "Land of Genesis." (Israeli Film Festival)
When you’re watching a mongoose take out his hissing foe in Israel’s first nature documentary, the allegory is almost too easy to draw. Fortunately, Israel has been the scrappy mongoose, defending its small corner of the Middle East, and also preserving considerable areas of pristine nature.
Moshe Alpert documents three species of mammals raising their young in the wild habitats of Israel most people never knew existed, in “Land of Genesis,” which screens during the upcoming 2011 Israel Film Festival in New York.
“Land of Genesis” will radically change how many people think of Israel, particularly the Golan Heights, where two wolves are starting their own pack. Likewise, the Sea of Galilee probably has much different associations for viewers than as the habitat for swamp cats. At least the desert might seem like a fitting environment for exotic species, like the ibexes Alpert follows.
Director-cinematographer Alpert captures some truly dramatic footage, often from decidedly unusual angles. However, he never minimizes the life-and-death realities of the natural world. Easily his most dramatic footage captures the ibexes scrambling off their mountaintop perches when a minor earthquake causes an avalanche. It is a sequence that might be too intense for young viewers.
Yaron London’s narration is unabashedly anthropomorphic, yet the wolves, dubbed Alon and Nufar, seem remarkably expressive to human eyes. Still, it is probably the scenes of the ibexes with their large curved horns and unforgiving mating rituals that will be most informative to American audiences. (Parents should also be warned of a brief scene of animal “husbandry.”)
Capitalizing on the arresting vistas of natural Israel, “Land of Genesis” is a visually striking film. Alpert captures some up-close-and-personal scenes of survival in the wild that provide moments of genuine surprise. It also demonstrates how seriously the State of Israel takes their stewardship of the environment.
One of the better films of the recent bumper crop of wildlife documentaries, it screens this Sunday (May 8), next Wednesday (May 11), the following Sunday (May 15), and Thursday (May 19) as part of the 2011 Israel Film Festival taking place in New York.
Land of Genesis
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Throughout the entire world, Israel is presented through news broadcasts on television-- a series of violent images of terror and war.This film introduces a completely different Israel-- an Israel of amazing landscapes and multitudes of plants and wildlife.