Turn Left at the End of the Word, directed
by Avi Nesher; Israel/France, 2004, 108 minutes, 35 mm. English/Hebrew/French/
Moroccan with subtitles. San Diego Jewish Film Festival showings: 8 p.m.,
Thursday, Feb. 17, AMC Theatres, La Jolla, and 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 19 at
the Ultrastar Theatres, Poway.
Donald H. Harrison
When Sarah (Liraz Charchi) arrives with her Jewish family from Bombay,
India, in a development town somewhere deep in Israel's Negev desert, Nicole (Neta
Gerti), whose Moroccan Jewish family arrived there some years before, advises
her to forget about writing stories about what she sees. "Here,"
she warns, "you'll only have blank pages."
Sarah and Nicole in the middle of nowhere
Nicole turns out to be wrong about other things as well in this coming-of-age
film, in which she seduces her teacher while her friend, the widow, acclimates
Sarah's father to the passions of the desert. Sarah and Nicole only come to
appreciate their mothers after crises rent the lives of both families.
At first the Indian settlers and the Moroccan Jews viewed each other with
suspicionótheir instant verdicts that the others were "primitive"
people. The facts that the Indians spoke English and the Moroccans spoke French
and that their chief means of communication was an uncertain Hebrew, did not
help matters any. But a strike that shut down the bottling plant in their
one-industry town had the unforeseen effect of bringing the two communities
together in a hilarious way.
Sarah's father had played cricket in Bombay, and to pass the hours, he organized
pick up games with other Indians. At first, the Moroccans watched derisively
from the sidelines, but eventually they were pulled in. A touring British
cricket team heard of this French-Indian cricket team in the middle of the
desert and agreed to play an exhibition match against them. The town once
again had hopeómaybe the match would draw attention and bring tourists to
them. After all, noted one small merchant, Las Vegas also was started by Jews in
There are numerous subplots in this charming, R-rated film, but the unifying
story is the strong bond of friendship that Sarah and Nicole forge for each
otheródespite the differences in their backgrounds.