Opening 12 Apr 2007
Love and Dance, an Israeli film, has traces of Billy Elliot in that it takes place in a region with political and social boundaries and that young Chen (Vladimir Volov) is forced at first to take dancing lessons secretly. Chen's father Rami (Ari Kushnir) is sort of an Israeli Jean-Paul Belmondo – a macho type with a cigarette always hanging out of the side of his mouth. When not photographing weddings for his livelihood, he likes to sit in the dunes and photograph sand migration with impatient Chen at his side. Chen's mother Lena (Oksana Korostyshevskaya) is Russian and this is how we first realize that the film is about the culture clash between the sabras (the born-in-Israel Israelis) and the looked-down-upon Russian immigrants. Rami doesn't even want Lena speaking Russian to Chen, but she persists. The bicultural family has its problems, and Lena sometimes stifles Chen with her love. When Rami forgets he had promised to take Lena dancing for their wedding anniversary, Chen accompanies his mother to a dance studio in the community center. It is there that he first sees Natalie and in order to get to know her, he starts to attend her dancing class. Yulia Rabinovitch (Yevgenia Dodina) is the critical but sympathetic dance instructor. Chen, in the middle of his parents' conflict, finally realizes that he cannot help them, and this is when he is free for the first time in his life – free to lead his own life in his own way.
Throughout the film the prejudice the young Russians are exposed to when in contact with Israelis their age in the projects of Ashdod is evident, and their survival techniques take interesting variations. The lovely, momentarily happy ending is like a scene from a musical. All at the national dance tournament, even the spectators and jury, dance and swirl and smile – seemingly without a care in the world. (Thelma Freedman)