hate requests. Yosef Tawila is
particularly disinclined, but he cannot refuse the dying wish of his former
friend and band-mate. However, he will
have to recruit some high caliber Mizrahi musicians to play the ambitious title
symphony and time is running short in Beni Torati’s The Ballad of the Weeping Spring (trailer here), which screens
during the 2013 New York Jewish Film Festival, co-presented by the Jewish
Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
has not touched his tar since his glory days in the Turquoise Ensemble. Riddled with guilt, he is not a man who wants
to be found. Nonetheless, Amram Mufradi
tracks him down, bearing the Weeping
Spring score. His father Avram is quickly
succumbing to lung cancer and wishes to finally hear the extended composition
he co-wrote with Tawila, as it was meant to be performed.
Tawila cannot simply get the old band together again. Two members died in a car crash he was found
responsible for. Their singer Margaret
is now confined to a wheel chair, but she passed on her talent to Tamara, the
daughter Tawila never knew. That is hard
recruiting stop for the absentee father to make, but Mufradi and the young
singer hit it off rather well. For the
rest of the band, it just a matter of haunting the right dive bars and red
light districts. In one case, they will
have trouble with a blind flutist’s Fagin, but people just seem to want to help
the Tawila level his karma.
While not essential for cineastes, Weeping Spring could easily be the
biggest hit at this year’s NYJFF. There
is plenty of camaraderie, redemption, and some elegant music, but Toraty never
excessively milks the sentiment. In
fact, the father-daughter rapprochement is surprisingly matter-of-fact and the
attraction between the second generation Turquoise musicians is mostly hinted
at. Of course, it ends with a big
emotional concert, but again Toraty resists overplaying his hand.
like the weight of the world rests on his shoulders, Uri Gavriel (the blind
prisoner of the pit in The Dark Knight
Rises) has gravitas to spare as Tawila.
Established Israeli pop-star Ishtar displays a warm cinematic presence
as Margaret and her voice nearly steals the entire show during the big climatic
concert. For the most part, the large
supporting cast of actor-musicians look appropriately colorful and slightly
seedy, except for Dudu Tassa (seen during last year’s festival in Iraq ‘n’ Roll), here very earnest and
clean-cut as young Mufradi.
While dubbed a Mizrahi Magnificent Seven, Weeping
Spring actually includes an obvious riff on Marion Ravenwood’s drinking
contest from Raiders of the Lost Ark,
so it has that going for it. A modest
but appealing drama with a striking soundtrack, Ballad of the Weeping Spring should have a long and fruit life on
the festival circuit and in specialty distribution. Sure to be a crowd pleaser, it screens this
Saturday (1/12) and Thursday (1/24) at the Walter Reade Theater as part of this
Labels: Israeli Cinema, Mizrahi music, NYJFF'13