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The Garden is a desolate section of Tel Aviv where young gay prostitutes and drug addicts gather. It's a territory for the dispossessed (the irony of its name not lost on anyone who enters or escapes) and for pickups, drug deals, and clashes with the law. Over the course of one year, filmmakers Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash follow two young men who have made the Garden their home: Nino, a 17-year-old Palestinian living illegally in Israel, in and out of jail and reformatories; and Dudu, an Arab-Israeli self- destructing under the debilitation of drug addiction. The young men give Shatz and Barash tremendous access into the most intimate aspects of their lives. The filmmakers, ever mindful of the trust they have earned, create a powerfully honest film, affording Nino and Dudu respect and dignity all too often denied them in their daily lives. Against the backdrop of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the unease and ridicule still directed toward homosexuals, the two friends depend on each other for support and a sense of security and love. A poignant film that offers no sedatives to numb the pain or reduce the loneliness, Garden is ultimately about longing and belonging, and the elusive meaning of home.
YEAR / 2004
DIRECTOR / Adi Barash & Ruthie Shatz
RUNTIME / 84 min
"A poignant verite life-slice"
"Well-made docu provides nonexploitative insight"
"Heartbreaking, passionate and articulate."
"Their vivid personalities and troubled friendship tells a larger-than-life story, presented with compassion and urgency."
THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY
Directors Shatz and Barash paint a strong, dispassionate and candid portrait of boys who have run away from home, The film succeeds in drawing you into this dark world and successfully transcends a simple study of the friendship between two boys to explore far bigger themes of Arab culture, homosexuality, the impact of the political situation on all levels of society, illegals, resident status and the omnipresence of God.
"Garden" is one of a small stream of films coming out of Israel that tells stories beyond the confines of the conflict and the struggle for territory. In the end, you feel the pain of teenagers coming to grips with their own sexuality who have to risk their lives having sex with unknown men on a daily basis, just to survive.
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