Ashraf (Yousef “Joe” Sweid), a Palestinian, meets Noam (Ohad Knoller), an Israeli, at a checkpoint station. The pair begin a relationship, and Ashraff moves in illegally with Noam and Noam’s roommates, Lulu (Daniela Virtzer) and Yelli (Alon Friedman). The hip Tel Aviv neighborhood in which they live insulates them from the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews, but their protection cannot last forever.
The Bubble (2006)
Ha-Buah (original title)
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Three young Israelis – two guys and a girl – share an apartment and disillusionment in love and politics in the combined erotic comedy and political drama “The Bubble,” which is directed by acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox (“Walk on Water,” “Yossi and Jagger”). “The Bubble” debuts on DVD on February 12th from Strand Releasing Home Entertainment, with a pre-book date of January 24, 2008.
Life in the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv can be a lot like living inside a bubble. With its nightclub, cafes, boutiques and easy going social and sexual mores, it’s simple for young and progressive Israelis to feel happily disconnected from the political realities that are literally tearing their country apart. Inside this “bubble” live Noam (Ohad Knoller), a twenty-something record shop clerk who satisfies his government-required military tour-of-duty on weekends; Yali (Alon Friedmann), a bubbly restaurant manager; and Lulu (Daniela Wircer), an aspiring fashion designer whom Yali calls the “Israeli Carrie Bradshaw.”
Into their intimate cocoon comes a traveling young Arab named Ashraf (Yousef “Joe” Sweid). Noam becomes smitten with Ashraf. Unable to express his gay identity openly at home, Ashraf moves in with Noam and becomes part of his lover’s tightly knit extended family. He also becomes a test for their core ideological beliefs, as he quietly deflects the anti-Palestinian prejudice they regularly encounter.
As an Arab, Ashraf, however, is in Israel illegally. If he is caught without a permit, he’ll be arrested and returned home – the last place he wants to be. The gay lifestyle is still a taboo subject in devout Muslim homes, and Ashraf’s family has no idea of his sexuality. Perhaps worse, they are trying to marry him off to a neighborhood girl. Ashraf’s predicament gives the roommates an idea: he will now go by the more Israeli name “Shimi,” he’ll work at the restaurant with Yali, and they’ll all collectively try to pass him off as a nice Israeli boy for as long as they can. Unfortunately, bubbles are very easily burst, particularly when reality – and violence – strikes in a politically volatile country like Israel. Moreover, on a personal level, an interesting element is the paradox that stems from Noam’s willingness to serve his country while simultaneously harboring opposition to its policies.
With “The Bubble,” writer/director Eytan Fox continues his examination of the impact of political issues on modern Israelis with this moving sensitive film. He paints an involving, layered, yet humor-filled picture of idealistic young adults trying to make a difference, yet also enjoy their lives, as the shadow of death and destruction, car bombings and cries for vengeance, is a constant and ever-present reality.
“The Bubble” was an Official Selection at the Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals, winning such accolades as “erotic…beautiful” from the Los Angeles Times, “romantic” from The New York Times, and “superb” from the LA Weekly. The San Francisco Bay Times called the film “engaging,” while the Bay Area Reporter said “The Bubble” was “hot.”