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Jame's Journey to Jerusalem

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The title character of this gently bittersweet Israeli drama, written and directed by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, is young Zulu man of devout Christian reverence, sent on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land by his village, after which he'll return to become its pastor. When James (Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe) arrives in Israel, he's mistaken for a migrant worker, placed in jail, sprung, and ends up in doing labor, albeit for good pay. As James' life of profitable servitude continues, Alexandrowicz's scruffy-looking film explores a very anxious, very human microcosm of Israeli life. But James' entrepreneurship doesn't get him very far, and when he finally makes it to Jerusalem in a way he hadn't imagined, he's still delighted to see it, even if he's considerably more than a stone's throw away. Alexandrowicz's little parable seems to reflect on Israel's struggle with cultural diversity and ecumenism, and it reminds us of what we should already know: that Jerusalem is many things to many people, and not just the crux of Israeli/Jewish identity. His movie probably has deeper resonance for Israeli audiences, and at times it feels rather more precious than necessary. Still, it's certainly unique, and that alone wins it half a star. In Hebrew, Zulu and English, with subtitles. 3 cameras

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