A Borrowed Identity (Film & Discussion)

Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, in collaboration with Temple Sinai and through the generosity of The Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, presents A Borrowed Identity.

The complex intertwined identities of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis – two peoples divided by a shared culture – is explored in A Borrowed Identity by leading Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis and acclaimed Arab-Israeli writer Seyad Kashua, based on his autobiographical fictions.

The film, set during the 1980s and 1990s, avoids extremist political harangues in order to provide a textured portrait of a young man going through a set of personal transitions against the background of ongoing cultural flux that reflects a larger, group identity crisis. The director’s and writer’s image of the historical times is dramatically well defined

While the film starts out nice and easy, seemingly a tender film about coming of age, has the audience lulled into a sense of untroubled well-being. However, the ostensibly low-key film, with its occasional early humorous scenes, is about a hard-edged difficult subject – an Israeli film that offers a picture from life’s other side.

A Borrowed Identity tells the story of Eyad, an Israeli-Palestinian teenager from Tira who moves to Jerusalem to study at an elite Jewish high school, where he meets Naomi, a Jewish student, and falls in love with her. As part of his school-mandated community service, he meets Yonatan, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, and his mother Edna. From there, the story gets uncomfortable and disquieting.

At its best, A Borrowed Identity (which was released under the title Dancing Arabs) concerns itself with the manipulability of self, with who we are and how society and culture can force identity choices on us. It suggests that all of us possess “borrowed identities,” the one our families, real and extended, confer on us, and another forced upon us by virtue of our community or state. All shape our personalities, but Riklis insists that our humanity, our capacity for forgiveness and understanding, allows us to move past the issues that divide people and, by extension, that spur nations to war.

A Borrowed Identity will be shown April 15, 7 pm, at Temple Sinai, 509 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. A panel discussion and dessert reception will follow. A $5 donation is requested. For information or reservations, call 518-584-8730, option 2.