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Jewish Journal

2 Israeli Works Highlight L.A. Jewish Film Festival

by Tom Tugend

April 27, 2010 | 8:08 pm

“A Matter of Size,” directed by Erez Tadmor and Sharon Maymon (Israel, 2009).

“A Matter of Size,” directed by Erez Tadmor and Sharon Maymon (Israel, 2009).

The annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival this year bookends its six-day run with two Israeli films, opening with a bittersweet comedy and closing out with a hard-hitting look at the “lone soldiers” in the country’s army.

“A Matter of Size,” the festival opener on May 8, targets an American obsession, the constant struggle to shed excess weight.

In this case, the four protagonists are not just a few pounds over, but ... well ... enormously fat.

Foremost among the corpulent blue-collar workers in the hard-scrabble town of Ramle is Herzl (Itzik Cohen), who tips the scales at 340 pounds. After two weeks at a crash course on slimming, he’s gained another 28 pounds.

Desperate, with no girlfriend and a mother who simultaneously nags him to slim down and to eat up, Herzl recruits three heavyweight buddies and the four decide to become sumo wrestlers — a profession where fat folds are highly respected.

A Japanese restaurant owner — and former sumo coach — teaches the men the fundamentals, the lads put on a show for the enthusiastic townspeople, and Herzl gets the (full-figured) girl.

The plot and characters are reminiscent of “The Full Monty,” but with somewhat more serious undertones. While, in “Monty,” the size of a man’s private parts is generally not a matter for public inspection, the enormously obese men can’t hide their imperfections from sarcastic bystanders or scornful members of the opposite sex.

So there are lots of laughs, but “A Matter of Size” is also about how to regain one’s self-esteem in a thin-obsessed world, ready to humiliate those who don’t fit in.

The movie premieres May 8 at the Writers Guild of America, 135 S. Doheny Drive,  in Beverly Hills. Red carpet arrivals, reception, and a discussion with the film’s directors, Erez Tadmor and Sharon Maymon, moderated by Jewish Journal Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman, start at 7:30 p.m. The screening begins at 8:30 p.m.

It will reprise May 10, 7:30 p.m., at Laemmle’s Town Center in Encino.

From the very beginning of the state, Is rael’s defense forces have been strengthened by volunteers from abroad. For instance, according to official statistics, 14,250 Americans are now serving Israel on active or reserve duty.

In local parlance, these men and women are “lone soldiers,” because they have no families to visit on weekends to soften the harshness of military life.

“The Loners” (in Hebrew, “HaBodedim”) takes its title from two Russians, who left their kin in the late 1990s to enlist in the Jewish state’s famed Golani Brigade.

One, who goes by the odd name of Glory Campbell, is from the Caucasus, a region that breeds fierce fighters, while his close friend Sasha Bluchin is the son of a Russian general and more given to discussion and compromise.

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