Close to Home (3 stars)

(12A) 90min


Written and directed by a pair of female filmmakers, Dalia Hager and Vidi Bilu, Close to Home has the distinction of being the first ever Israeli film to focus on the experiences of women in the country’s armed services. The rebellious Smadar (Smadar Sayar) and conscientious Mirit (Neama Schendar) are cute 18-year-olds serving their compulsory two-year term in the military. Patrolling the streets of Jerusalem near one of the gates to the Old City together they are instructed to check the identity cards of any Palestinians they encounter and to record their names and addresses. But, as Smadar asks her no-nonsense commander Dubek (Irit Suki), ‘How do I know who is an Arab?’

Smadar and Mirit have little to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: understandably their concerns are men, clothes, haircuts and their families. Mirit even develops a crush on a handsome male stranger, who assists her after a bomb attack. Shot on digital handheld cameras, Close to Home is an episodic, modest effort, yet, while avoiding sermonising, it successfully provides a perceptive snapshot of everyday life in a bitterly divided city.

(Tom Dawson)

Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Mon 4 Jun.

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