was (and still is) a modest provincial town in the Negev Desert when large
parties of Moroccan and Polish immigrants were encouraged to settle there. Fortunately,
the Israelis are good at building quickly. Perhaps you might have heard that
already. Despite what the UN and the old Administration thought, this is a good
thing. Of course, starting from scratch in the hardscrabble community was not
easy, especially for the girls and young women accustomed to a more
cosmopolitan environment. Yet, they survived and ultimately thrived, as they
explain in Michal Aviad’s documentary, Dimona
which screens during the 2017 New York Jewish Film Festival.
the new arrivals, the Poles were Ashkenazi and the Moroccans were Sephardi.
Their parents did not mix well, which set up many a Romeo & Juliet-style romance
amongst the younger generations. Life was hard regardless in Israel during the
mid-1960s, especially for those who did not speak Hebrew. Yet, most of the
women Aviad interviews slowly managed to find their place in the Israeli economy
they also danced the twist. It seems the Moroccan Dimonians came over with
particularly hip record collections. Nevertheless, the “twist” in Dimona Twist is probably overstated. In
terms of theme, style, and tone DT is
much more closely akin to Aviad’s Women Pioneers than a music or style doc.
the stories of resiliency are pretty darn impressive. Again, there is a
pronounced feminist dimension to Aviad’s latest film. Israel is truly a feminist
nation, but in the 1960s, there were pockets like Dimona, where the more
patriarchal attitudes from their old homelands (most definitely including Morocco)
still held sway.
In fact, Dimona
Twist represents Israel’s continuing efforts to come to terms with its
complicated past, including the less than edifying aspects. Such
self-examination and self-criticism is a unique manifestation of liberal
democracy. Yet, viewers should really watch DT
for the toughness of its subjects. They ask for no sympathy and express few
regrets. Respectfully recommended for those interested in Israeli history, Dimona Twist screens twice this coming
Monday (1/23) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYJFF.
Labels: Documentary, Israeli Cinema, NYJFF '17