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Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi

Israeli gadfly Avi Mograbi is the flashpoint of this shrewd docudrama about a beleaguered filmmaker bulling through a midlife crisis while juggling assignments to film the 50th annis of Israeli independence and the Palestinian refugee problem. Likely to provoke spirited discussion on the nature of media, commemorations and, of course, politics, pic can play wherever an opinionated voice from the left is desired.

Israeli gadfly Avi Mograbi is the flashpoint of this shrewd docudrama about a beleaguered filmmaker bulling through a midlife crisis while juggling assignments to film the 50th annis of Israeli independence and the Palestinian refugee problem. Likely to provoke spirited discussion on the nature of media, commemorations and, of course, politics, pic can play wherever an opinionated voice from the left is desired.

Assigned by an emotionally erratic producer to film the events leading up to the gala Israeli celebration, Mograbi finds his latest voyage of discovery intensifying when a Palestinian Authority rep persuades him to shoot at the ruins of a Jewish settlement. As a real estate deal in pursuit of the Israeli Dream begins to go bad, and Mograbi discovers his 42nd birthday and independence day coincide, the three strands of the story begin to intrude upon one another, in odd and ironic ways. Shot on video and edited on a PC in Mograbi’s living room, this self-described “movie about interruptions” includes sobering street violence on the eve of the holiday.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi

(DOCUDRAMA -- ISRAELI -- 16mm)

Production: An Avi Mograbi production, in association with Les Films d'Ici. (International sales: Avi Mograbi, Tel Aviv.) Co-producer, Serge Lalou. Directed, written, edited by Avi Mograbi. Camera (color, 16mm), Eitan Harris, Ron Katzenelson, Itzik Portal, Yoav Gurfinkel, Oded Kimhi, Yoav Dagan, Mograbi. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 18, 1999. Original title: Yom huledet, same'ach, mar Mograbi. Hebrew, Arabic and English dialogue. Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Shachar Segal, Daoud Koutab, Ephraim Stan, Gidi Dar, Roni Pisker, Ido Berger, Avi Mograbi.

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