|Directed by:||Guy Michael||Rating:||TV-PG|
|Release Date:||2005||Running Time:||52 mins.|
|Language:||Hebrew, German (English subtitles)||Genre:||Drama|
|More Info:||Actor Dror Keren won an Ophir award for Best Actor in the film||Category:||Feature Films|
Watch the Trailer:
About the Film:
An Israeli Oliver Twist, Katzhen shares the beautiful but sad story of a young boy who, faced with the loss of his mother and an incapable father, decides to take control of his own destiny. Traveling across Israel in search of love and stability, Katzhen finds it in unexpected places.
“Mama, I want to go with you,” little Katzhen whispers to himself late at night, “I want to go to Heaven with you.”
After his mother’s funeral, Katzhen finds himself shuttled from one unfit home to another. Caught in a tug of war between his cold aunt and his promiscuous and suicidal uncle – neither of which, needless to say, knows how to raise a child – he’s eventually sent off from this first stopping point to a kibbutz, where more loneliness and cruelty await him.
Placeless and insecure, the little boy is forced to take charge of his own destiny but isn’t quite capable enough to do so.
Like the little hero Oliver Twist, Katzhen is distant from other boys, seeming to exist in a world of his own. Despite the many hardships he faces, he never complains, and he rarely cries. Instead, his big brown eyes absorb everything around him, trying to make sense of the scenes of death, sex, and violence that he witnesses. Rootless and insecure, but with a strong spirit and stoic attitude that speak to a maturity well beyond his young age, the little boy boldly tries to take control of his own fate and find his place in the big, wide-open world.
Visually stunning, the film captures the beauty of Israel’s countryside, offering shots of vast fields with wild flowers and open clear skies. The gray-blue beach is blanketed in bright white sunlight, and the line that separates the water from the sky is almost invisible.
A sincere and genuine film, Katzhen is a tear-jerker that never succumbs to sappiness, refusing to water down a complex story with a happy-go-lucky ending or pat answers to life’s problems.
Katzhen brings to the fore the everlasting power that a mother’s love has on her child. Having embraced it once, little Katzhen knows what it means to be truly loved, and so is particularly consumed with its loss. In the face of hardship, he retreats into himself, recalling the gentle voice and stories of the one person who really knew how to care for him. “When you were teeny-weeny, I’d hug you ever so tight,” Katzhen, hiding under the kitchen table, remembers his mother’s story, “You would curl up in a ball, like a little kitten. Remember? So I told your father, look I found a kitten!”
One of the most fascinating elements of the film is its complex understanding of human interactions. Instead of pushing for clichéd stereotypes, Katzhen defies them to seek an emotional truth. While the little boy slips through the cracks of care and attention at the bustling, if well-intentioned, kibbutz, a nomadic and introverted Bedouin ends up offering the boy great comfort, just by sitting silently next to him. The message isn’t simply that refuge can be found in unexpected places: Katzhen shows how the wonder, imagination, and truth-seeking of youth – when given true freedom – will better guide a child’s soul than any institution.
Every child has an insatiable appetite for love, but starved Katzhen only gets it in small bites. He feels loved when his uncle’s girlfriend leads him into the shallow waters of the beach, gently splashing him and holding him in the soft waves. He recognizes it as love when his father shares his orange slices with him and then pulls a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe off the little boy’s sticky, juicy fingers.
It’s this childish pursuit of the tiniest shards of light amidst the deepest dark that offers the greatest lessons in life, and teaches us how we can all stand to learn a bit more from a child.