Winner of the 2004 Best Actor award at the 2004 Israeli Film Academy for writer-star Shuli Rand, Ushpizin is a heart warming and light hearted look at the daily lives of ultra-Orthodox Jews learning, living and loving in m... more »odern-day Israel. Following the story of a family facing hardships, they must rely on their faith for miracles to happen during the holiday season. Inspiring, heartwarming and uplifting, Ushpizin is a critically acclaimed film that regardless of faith or religion, everybody can enjoy.« less
Frank E. (realartist) from HENDERSONVLLE, NC Reviewed on 3/7/2009...
Those of us who enjoy foreign films are, I suppose, arm chair travelers who quite possibly may never get to go anywhere without these. Finding ones that don't leave you profoundly disturbed is a little harder to do. This one is a superbly well done romantic tale-romance between married people, can you imagine that? It also gives us all a rare glimpse into the cloistered confines of an Orthodox Jewish community. All who call themselves Christian are acutely aware of the solid foundation upon which Christianity is planted, via Judaism. This should be of interest to anyone who loves good movies, with humor and a sweet and tender love story. It's truly unfortunate that theology is possibly the LAST thing anyone wishes to understand. For all who think like this, that theology is useless, meaningless drivel- understand that Satan is enjoying this 'phenom' with his feet propped up and a Cuban cigar boasting to his swarthy soldiers over his 'success' with these willfully and deliberately ignorant souls. If you've never considered taking up the study-this is a good place to start. But understand that Satan's feet will drop to the floor, and his eyes narrow over your sudden 'turn for the worse'. Like it or not, understand it or not...there is a war being waged over your soul.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Bonnie S. (BonnieS) from HEDGESVILLE, WV Reviewed on 12/19/2007...
We loved this movie, enough to look for more Isreali tales. Sweet, funny, tender. I recommend this one.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
"There's only God. And He has His reasons"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Few films have touched me as deeply as "Ushpizin," the story of Moshe and Mali Bellanga, their trusting in miracles, and their recognition of the tests God has placed in their path. They sometimes fail the tests, but they are always aware that God is in their midst, and they listen for His voice. The fervor of Moshe and Mali's prayers bring about a miracle, and also a great challenge, in the form of a friend of Moshe's "from the old days," and his companion, both escaped convicts. The plot takes place during the 7 day Harvest Festival of Succoth, and some of it is quite humorous, but every scene is imbued with an insight into humanity, and man's connection to his Creator.
Writer Shuli Rand stars as Moshe, with his real-life wife, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand as Mali; both are superb, with an intensity and truth in their characters that makes them totally believable, and an inner and outer beauty that captivates. Shot on location in the Mea Sherim quarter in Jerusalem, director Giddi Dar gives us marvelous details and performances from the actors in every scene. Shaul Mizrahi and Ilan Ganani are terrific as the 2 convicts, and so is Avraham Abutboul as Ben Baruch, the man who means well, but causes trouble, and won't leave until he is forgiven with a hug. The theme of forgiveness and repentance runs through the film, as well as God's great mercy.
Though this film will perhaps have a limited audience, those who will love it are anyone with familiarity and respect for Orthodox Judaism, and anyone who has a very personal relationship with his God. There are those who think the Orthodox Jew who speaks to God as though He is their most precious friend is a little "odd," and then there are those who speed down the freeway like a lemming with a cellphone stuck in their ear, and think they are "normal." Well, it takes all kinds to populate this crazy planet, and may the Moshes and Malis of the world prosper and bear much fruit. "
A must for those who like films about aspects of Jewish life
K. Corn | Indianapolis,, IN United States | 02/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This story focuses on an Orthodox couple who are so poor that they can't even afford a succah for the Succoth festival. Luckily, a donation helps them through that immediate crisis. Unfortunately, an even larger problem looms on the horizon. According to tradition, they aren't supposed to turn away guests who have no other place to turn. But what if the "guests" are willing to abuse the hospitality offered them? What if they are annoying and possibly even dangerous?
I was entranced by this situation, watching a couple's faith being testing, as well as getting a glimpse into the Orthodox Jewish world. This is a film that anyone (of whatever religious belief or tradition) can watch. It is heartwarming, uplifting and inspiring."
Accurate and very enjoyable portrayal of contemporary Chasid
Simcha F. Udwin | 01/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ushpizin is a warm and touching film about a childless, kind and poor Chasidic couple who live in Me'ah Shearim, the most ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in the world on the outskirts of the Old City in Jerusalem, and their enormous faith in and love for God. Moshe studies in yeshiva all day, and Mali tries to make ends meet as an at-home businesswoman. It's just before the Jewish festival of Sukkot, and Moshe and Mali are down on their luck. Their prayers are answered when an unexpected gift of money arrives on their doorstep from the communal fund; they are overjoyed that they can now have guests for the festival. They pray again for guests, and when two prison escapees and friends from Moshe's criminal past arrive, their prayers for much more than guests are unexpectedly answered.
There are many films portraying ultra-Orthodox Jewish life, but to those familiar with that life from an insider's perspective, many of them are inauthentic. This film stands out as a wonderful exception in that small genre. It is such an authentic portrayal of Chasidic life and values that I believe many Chasidim, who normally would never watch films, might eventually watch it and be happy to consciously gain from its beautifully and often humorously delivered messages of the power of love, acceptance, trust in God and sincerity."
AUTHENTICITY NOT ANTHROPOLOGY
A fan | London UK | 03/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Ushpizin' has received much well-deserved praise. Attention - however - has tended to concentrate on its 'folkishness' - you know, insights into the previously 'hidden' world of the ultra-orthodox Jews of Jerusalem, kinship to Singer-esque fables etc. Yet, there are a couple of aspects that seem to have been overlooked:
1. The performance of the main charcacter - SHULI RAND - is utterly rivetting. I mean, look at the guy's EYES (they certainly compelled my attention throughout).
2. The film's underlying POINT OF VIEW: a person is obliged to acknowledge G-d for EVERYTHING that comes their way, good or bad, REGARDLESS. And that such acknowledgement is not some sort of distant IDEA but is effectively an ongoing DIALOG with G-d - a dialog in which the individual is neither too proud, nor too embarassed, nor too sophisticated to address G-d in the most personal way. You may think that this has a resemblance to Tevye's outpourings in "Fiddler On The Roof" (think: "If I were a rich man" etc). This resemblance is but superficial. Shuli Rand (the lead actor and scriptwriter of 'Ushpizin') here manages to convey the very essence of his mindset with power, conviction and dignity. He successfully opposes both the demons of his past and his proclivity to ANGER (seen in the Jewish tradition as tantamount to idol-worship) - both potential obstacles to a dialog with G-d.
It is also interesting to contrast this film with another 'expose' of orthodox Jewish life - 'KADDOSH', by noted director Amos Gitai. Gitai's film, while impressive, seems to go in search of the flaws and contradictions of the orthodox Jewish life-style. His is essentially a sceptical and - I feel - politicised view. Gitai puts the viewer into a position where they are forced to EVALUATE or JUDGE this life-style. 'Ushpizin' on the other hand avoids this by concentrating on the underlying motivation that drives a certain kind of Jewish orthodoxy: acknowledgment of the Hand of G-d in all things.
'Ushpizin' is not without it's flaws (what film isn't?). For instance, the way events unfold sometimes makes the script seem a little clunky or theatrical. Also, mixing fable with hard reality is sometimes a little hard to take. But, the power of the film's main theme elevates it and enables it to transcend such considerations. Bravo."
A Tasty Little Film About Tradition - and Other Challenges!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A very strong cast and an excellent production crew brings USHPIZIN into the realm of classics that will endure. The story may be simple but to non-orthodox Jews it is one at times confusing but always fascinating in introducing cultural traditions that are unknown to many of us.
In the case of USHPIZIN that tradition is Succoth, a seven-day holiday honoring the time when the wandering Israelites were surviving in the desert on the way to the Holy Land. Each family must make a succah (a meager temporary shelter) and celebrate with Palm frond dates, myrtle, citron, etc. We are introduced to Rabbi Moshe (Shuli Rand) and his wife Malli (Michal Bat Sheva Rand) who are so poor they cannot afford a succah much less the accoutrements to celebrate Succoth. The both pray for miracles and one comes in the form of cash allowing them a succah etc. But also along come two escaped convicts (Shaul Mizrahi and Ilan Ganani) - one of whom is Moshe's ex-friend from the past, and ask for shelter: the tradition of Succoth includes never turning away guests ('ushzipin'). Naturally Moshe and Malli must take them in and the problems slowly arise, problems that challenge tradition, religion, and personal welfare.
The marriage of music, fine camera work, superb acting, beautiful costume design, and the magic of learning about ethnic traditions make this little film irresistible. Its story may be small but the metaphors are enormous! Highly recommended. In Hebrew with English subtitles. Grady Harp, August 06"