×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Montreal Film Review: ‘White Panther’

Danni Reisfeld's film about a young man's attempts to rise above his crime-ridden ghetto life is rough, formulaic but effective.

With:

Ze'ev Revach, Yevgeny Orlov, Meital Gal, Zura Vulkan Kartvelishvily, Natasha Manor. (Hebrew, Russian dialogue)

Rough, formulaic but effective, “White Panther” follows a young man’s attempts to rise above his crime-ridden ghetto life through athletics, set within the context of angry, alienated Russian-Jewish emigres disdainful of mainstream Israeli society. Danni Reisfeld’s scruffy first feature deals with issues of culture clash and gang violence among that nation’s ever-more-diverse population. New-director spotlights, youth-oriented festival programs and some offshore home-format sales are signaled.

Keeping a tight lid on his emotions is the best way Alex (Yevgeny Orlov) knows to deal with his largely unpleasant lot, sharing a public-housing apartment with his ailing, widowed mother (Natasha Manor) and his blustering older brother, Yevgeny (Zura Vulkan Kartvelishvily). Yevgeny is the head of a crew of Russian-nationalist skinheads who refuse to integrate into their adopted nation and beat up anyone who looks at them the wrong way. He himself answers to older Russian mafia types who use this group of easily manipulated, volatile youths to perform (mostly) petty crimes. While Mom despairs of her “bad seed” offspring, Alex simply tries to evade getting sucked into Yevgeny’s various illegal activities. His alternatives are few, however, given that most employers regard such former-Soviet-territory emigres with suspicion, and vice versa.

Mentioning that his father volunteered for and died in Israeli military service, Alex is spared arrest over a club fight by army vet turned cop David (Ze’ev Revach), who takes a shine to the shy, taciturn boy. On the side the older man runs a boxing gym, and spies natural talent in his new protegee, despite hostility from his largely Moroccan-Jewish trainees. But Alex’s hopes of realizing his competitive sports dream are clouded by increasing pressure from Yevgeny to get with the criminal program, even as he embarks on a tentative romance with David’s feisty daughter, Yasmin (Meital Gal).

This is not especially complicated or surprising material, and there’s little room for nuance or psychological depth. But it’s briskly, capably handled, the convincing milieu accentuated by the writer-helmer’s use of some Russian-Israeli gang members in smaller roles. (Pic expands on his 2001 semi-fictive short, “The White Panthers.”) Straightforward low-budget assembly has no need for higher production gloss.

Montreal Film Review: 'White Panther'

Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 24, 2013. Running time: 91 MIN. Original title: "Panter lavan"

Production:

(Israel) An Artza and United King production in association with New Fund for Cinema and Television, Israel Film Fund and Channel 10. (International sales: Artza Prods., Tel Aviv.) Produced by Dafna Prenner, Shai Eines, Moshe Edery, Leon Edery. Executive producer, Oriana Givoly-Genigar. Co-producers, Guy Behar, Amir Golan, Danny Reisfeld.

Crew:

Directed, written by Danni Reisfeld. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Ram Shweky; editor, Danielle Avitzur; music, Alon Ohana; production designer, Salim Schade; costume designer, Shamas Shlufa; sound, Misha Spector; sound designer, Michael Goorevich; casting, Limor Shmila, Shachar Smith, Mor Salmon.

With:

Ze'ev Revach, Yevgeny Orlov, Meital Gal, Zura Vulkan Kartvelishvily, Natasha Manor. (Hebrew, Russian dialogue)

More Film

  • Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda

    Arca, Cacerola, Viento del Norte, Panda Team on ‘Mental Health Not Included’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — In a return to film production after serving as president of Argentina’s National Institute of Film and the Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and then as a member of parliament, film producer Liliana Mazure is teaming with prestigious counterparts in Mexico and Brazil on a three-part, pan-regional dark comedy, “Mental Health Not Included.” Lead [...]

  • IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent

    IFFAM and Variety Celebrate Asian Talent Up Next

    The International Film Festival and Awards Macao and Variety combined forces for the second year running to put a spotlight on Asia’s acting talent. A well-attended meet-the-stars press event on Friday afternoon in Macau was addressed by leading local official, Maria Helena Senna de Fernandes. She turned the microphone over the five actors from different [...]

  • Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de

    Panorama, Delicious Team for Bernardo de la Rosa’s ‘Mario’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — One of Mexico’s highest-flying production houses whose latest movie production, “I’m No Longer Here,” screens as a work on progress at Ventana Sur, Gerardo Gática and Alberto Muffelmann’s Panorama Global, will produce “Mario,” a bio series directed by Bernardo de la Rosa which underscores Latin America’s building drive into bilingual, bi-country U.S.-Mexico [...]

  • Backtrace Review

    Film Review: 'Backtrace'

    “You can’t kill me! I died seven years ago!” It’s very much to the credit of Matthew Modine that he persuasively sells this melodramatic scrap of dialogue, and every other aspect of his trickily written lead character, in “Backtrace,” a better-than-average VOD-centric thriller that likely wouldn’t work nearly so well without the veteran actor’s totally [...]

  • Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    Film News Roundup: 'Lawnmower Man' Director Brett Leonard Boards 'Elijah'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Elijah” gets a director, a French fry documentary starts shooting and “Uglydolls” moves its release date forward. PROJECT LAUNCH More Reviews Film Review: 'Backtrace' Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Brett Leonard, best known for directing ”The Lawnmower Man” and “Virtuosity,” will direct the supernatural feature film “Elijah,” based on [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Commercial Negotiations Set for February

    With no fanfare, SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry have set a mid-February start for negotiations for a successor deal to the union’s master contract, Variety has learned. The current three-year deal — which covers about $1 billion in annual earnings — expires on March 31. SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee of the ad industry [...]

  • SONDRA LOCKESONDRA LOCKE - 1986

    Oscar Nominee Sondra Locke Dies at 74

    Actress and director Sondra Locke, who received a supporting actress Oscar nomination in her first movie role for “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” died Nov. 3 at 74. The Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed her death. She died due to breast and bone cancer, according to Radar Online, which reported that she [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content