Death of a Poetess

Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 75 minutes

Stranger Says:

Did an Arab woman drown a Jewish woman, or is a Jewish investigator unfairly sticking the crime to the member of the oppressed class? That’s the question you’re supposed to care most about in this short interrogation film. But the movie is unsuccessful because the characters are underdeveloped and because too many other basic questions overshadow the main one. For instance: Do they really have to call her a “poetess”? Is the film shot in black-and-white to look artsy or to underline the conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Levant? And, most importantly, how can such a short film feel like such a long one?

SIFF Says:

On a fateful evening in Tel Aviv, the lives of two women—and their powerful stories—intersect. Lenny, a 50-year-old Israeli filled with regret, has just completed a manuscript titled “Death of a Poetess.” This achievement seems to have given her some relief, but also carries with it a certain finality. Yasmin, a 30-something Palestinian, works as a nurse, and regularly leaves her husband and young daughter to come to a gay-friendly bar on the beach. When they meet, they strike up an intense and wide-ranging conversation—about poetry, about motherhood, about their lives. While in many ways very different people, the two have more in common than one might think, and the evening grants them a moment of unexpected intimacy. When that moment has passed and the women have gone their separate ways, Yasmin finds herself at a police station being interrogated by an officer who seems determined to make her confess to a crime she didn't commit. Shot in black and white, this chamber drama offers a poignant evocation of the ways in which human beings connect with and diverge from one another, never fully knowing what the impact might be.

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Film Credits
Dana Goldberg, Efrat Mishori
Evgenia Dodina, Samira Saraya, Y. Goldberg
SIFF 2018