Esther. 1986. Israel/Austria/Great Britain. Directed by Amos Gitai. Screenplay by Gitai, Stephan Levine. With Simone Benyamini, Mohammad Bakri, Juliano Mer-Khamis. Digital projection. In Hebrew; English subtitles. 97 min.
The story of Queen Esther, who in the Old Testament rescued the Jews from imminent slaughter by her husband King Ashasuerus, is made vividly relevant to the present-day cycle of vengefulness between Israel and its enemies. Amos Gitai’s debut feature, which draws upon his mother Efratia’s own Biblical scholarship, is filmed as a series of ritualized tableaux amid the ruins of Wadi Salib, the contested Arab neighborhood of Haifa. Digital restoration courtesy CINEMATEK (Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique)