×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

As Lilith

A documentary constructed for maximum suspense and mind-boggling surrealism.

With:
With: Lilith Saraf, Aoor Saraf, Yoav Etiel, Yehuda Meshi Zahav.

In Israeli helmer Eytan Harris’ astounding docu “As Lilith,” a teenager’s suicide sets off a witch-hunt of medieval proportions as an ultra-orthodox religious organization battles a self-proclaimed descendant of the lost city of Atlantis for possession of the corpse. In a case of truth proving stranger than fiction, outlandish events unfold directly in front of Harris’ camera as both sides seek to recruit the filmmaker to promote their respective causes. Harris masterfully constructs his film for maximum suspense and mind-boggling surrealism while maintaining a matter-of-fact, on-the-fly reporting style. Theatrical distribution will require careful handling, but tube play seems assured.

After her 14-year-old daughter, Meytar, hangs herself, Lilith Saraf moves to have her cremated, since her fringe religion demands that no trace of the departed remain on earth. Her legal, albeit non-traditional, choice is contested by Zaka, the religious organization that controls Israel’s death industry, which insists on proper Jewish burials.

Zaka wages a court battle, roping in Saraf’s estranged ex-husband to legitimize its claim, but when legal means fail, the org resorts to more extreme measures. Harris gains access to Zaka’s strategy meetings, where members first hypothesize that Saraf drove her daughter to suicide, then speculate that she might have murdered her outright. With the help of a fanatical reporter, Yoav Etiel, they spread sensationalistic rumors, including allegations that Meytar’s older brother, who has returned home to support his mother, physically and sexually abused his sister.

Soon the confrontational Saraf, who has already spooked neighbors with her pagan dances and rituals, and her barefoot, bra-less, witchy look, is treated like a murderer by passersby who shout imprecations, invade her property and throw stones.

But Saraf’s peculiarities pale beside the furor Zaka unleashes as things come to a head.

Harris only gradually and indirectly doles out the real facts behind Meytar and her death. He follows the reporter on his self-serving crusade to reveal the truth, but the more the tabloid journalist probes, the more the evidence flatly contradicts his lurid theories. Finally, we hear posthumously from Meytar herself as Lilith convenes her daughter’s classmates to deliver the surprisingly upbeat suicide notes Meytar left to each of her friends.

In its dissection of a passion-inflaming case that is vaguely reminiscent of the Terri Schiavo imbroglio in the U.S., “As Lilith” dramatically demonstrates the grotesque lengths taken by religious fundamentalists to intrude into private matters of mortality.

As Lilith

Israel

Production: An Area23a (in U.S.) release of an Eytan Harris production of a Rabinovich Foundation, Recanati Foundation, Tel-Aviv Cinemateque project with the support of the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport, the Israel Film Council. Produced, directed by Eytan Harris.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Harris; editor, Tali Halter Shenkar; music, Israel Bright; sound designer, Alex Claude. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Feb. 3, 2011. (In New York Jewish Film Festival; 2010 SilverDocs, Jerusalem film festivals.) Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Lilith Saraf, Aoor Saraf, Yoav Etiel, Yehuda Meshi Zahav.

More Film

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

  • Joker

    Korea Box Office: 'Joker' Remains on Top, 'Gemini Man' Lands in Fourth

    Warner Bros.’ “Joker” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend. The American psychological thriller earned $5.71 million from 768,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday, for a total of $28.3 million from 3.85 million admissions after two weekends. It accounted for 46% of total weekend box office in the country. [...]

  • dolittle-DRD_Tsr1Sht_1011_RGB_4_rgb-1

    Robert Downey Jr. Embarks on Perilous Journey in First 'Dolittle' Trailer (Watch)

    Robert Downey Jr. is setting sail with some furry friends in the first trailer for “Dolittle,” Universal Pictures’ reimagining of the classic story about a man who could speak to animals. “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey,” he says. Set to a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Posts Powerful Opening in North America

    Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has launched with a spectacular $376,264 at three U.S. theaters.  Neon opened “Parasite” at The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles and at the IFC Center in New York, where it broke the opening record set by 2014’s “Boyhood.” Its per-screen average of [...]

  • Joker Movie

    'Joker' Dominates International Box Office With $124 Million

    “Joker” is showing impressive traction internationally with a second weekend of $123.7 million on 24,149 screens in 79 markets — a holdover decline of just 29%. Joaquin Phoenix’s psychological thriller has totaled $351.2 million outside North America after only 12 days in release. And with $192 million in domestic grosses, “Joker” has now topped $543 [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Remains Box Office Ruler With $55 Million

    Joaquin Phoenix is king of the North American box office once again as “Joker” scores an easy victory in its second weekend with $55 million at 4,374 sites. “Joker” dominated a trio of new entries with animated comedy “The Addams Family” leading the rest of pack with $30.3 million at 4,007 venues, topping forecasts. Will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content