Fauda (29th Israel Film Festival)

The Israeli Defense Force has, for years, infiltrated Palestine for counter-terrorism purposes (which should be no surprise at all) with special troops called “Mista’arvim”. These are people who pose as Palestinians and work as what you might call double-agents. Or, in the case of this film, troops who pass for arab just long enough to accomplish some short mission.

This was an interesting “movie”. It was extremely tense: As we’ve seen in many Isareli (and Palestinian!) films, it is tough to beat the sort of paranoia that goes along with being a Jew in Palestine. Being a Palestine in Israel isn’t really an issue, it seems, unless you’re there to cause some sort of chaos.

I’m told “Fauda” is arabic for “chaos”, by the way.

What!? That's how they walk around in the Middle East!

Our hero and his team on their way to a relaxed BBQ party.

Fauda does a good job of humanizing the Palestinians without justifying them. The MacGuffin here is a Palestinian terrorist, The Panther, they all thought the lead had killed, but who has turned up on the eve of his brother’s wedding. The hero takes a team in disguised as pastry chefs, to try to spot this guy, but they’re found out and the whole thing turns ugly.

They don’t try to mitigate this. It’s a joyous occasion that they throw into bloodshed and chaos. But as the chief points out, it’s in the service of getting the Panther, who has murdered scores of Israelis. And every single person at that party regards him as a hero. That doesn’t make it palatable, of course.

Anyway, there’s all this great acting, great action scenes, great setups, drama galore and so on, and you’d think this was going to be the knock-out punch that Suicide was last year.

But when the credits rolled, The Boy and I were kind of “Huh.” We did not know this, but it turns out that “Fauda” is actually a TV series and we saw what are probably the first two episodes. So, great story, enjoyed it a lot, but felt it was missing a clean resolution and character/story arcs—because it was!

This is not actually in the movie, of course.

Also, when they pulled off his mask and it turned out to have been Old Mr. Jenkins, who was just terrorizing Jews so they wouldn’t find the pirate treasure…

So, that’s on the IFF and the theater (which extracted just the description). I do see now that—not in the description, which is all that’s mentioned on the theater websites, but in the category on the IFF site itself—it’s noted as a TV show.

Anyway, our viewing suffered hugely as a result of it not meeting our expectations—after all, jamming together episodes of a good or even great TV show does not a feature make—but if I were a TV watching guy, I’d probably watch this. The lead (Lior Raz) is one of the co-creators, and his partner and he were actual Mista’avrim.

Which is also kind of mind-blowing.

Infiltrating is easy considering how much Israelis and Palestinians look alike.

Here a Palestinian doctor is agreeing to protect the Panther. She’ll become a love interest to the married star later on in the series, unless I miss my guess.

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