When we first meet the Frankel family in Rapahël Nadjari’s beautifully acted drama, they are leading a fairly normal existence in one of Jerusalem’s “in-between” neighborhoods—not strictly Orthodox, but not entirely secular either. It’s a keen metaphor for the Frankels’ own Jewish identity: Eli, the father, is from a pious, observant family that delights in daily debating the spiritual questions sparked by Jewish liturgy; mother Alma is from a more secular background and has clearly made compromises to fit into to Eli’s world. Teenage son Menachem is comfortable wearing his kippah (skullcap) around the house, but tucks it away as soon as he goes out the door to meet his girlfriend. And little David may be too young to sort out his own place on the spectrum . . . but not for long.
One day, Eli simply disappears from the scene of an accident. Uncertain whether he is dead or alive, the family copes with their confusion and grief in ways that test their faith and family bonds. Alma, focusing on the practical survival of her household, chafes at her in-laws’ insistence on filling her house with ritual visits and prayers from the Psalms (tehilim). Her boys, desperate for solace, embark on a religious scheme that precipitates a moral and spiritual crisis.
Shot in the immediacy of handheld HD video but with film lenses that give depth and warmth to this extraordinary ensemble piece, Tehilim is a moving, complex and thoroughly rewarding journey into the searching soul of a modern family.
From 2008 Festival: Director, Israel
Raphael Nadjari (born 1971 in Marseille, France) is a French born writer and director for film and television.
In 1993, Nadjari started working for French television as a writer and director. In 1997, he wrote the television screenplay Le P'tit Bleu, which was directed by Francois Vautier for Arte as part of the TV drama collection Petits Gangsters.
The same year he wrote and directed his first US feature, The Shade (released in 1999), which starred Richard Edson, Lorie Marino, and Jeff Ware). It was an adaptation of A Gentle Creature by Dostoevsky that Nadjari updated, setting it in contemporary New York. This film was an Official Selection ("Un Certain Regard") at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and also appeared at the Deauville Film Festival, the film was awarded in Bergamo Film Festival (Italy).
At the end of 1999, Raphael directed his second feature, I Am Josh Polonski's Brother (2001). Starring Richard Edson and Jeff Ware, it was shot on Super 8 mm film in New York. The film opened in Paris on June 6, 2001 and was selected for the Forum for New Cinema at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001.
Also in 2001, Nadjari shot a film in New York, Apartment #5c (released in 2002). It starred Richard Edson and Tinkerbell an Israeli actress and was selected in Cannes' "Director's Forthnight."
In 2004, Nadjari shot Avanim in Tel Aviv, Israel with Assi Levy who has been nominated for Best Actress in the European Film Award. The film received also The Best film award in Cinéma Tout Ecran and the Best director film Award in Cannes 2005 France Culture Award.
His latest film set in Jerusalem and stars Michael Moushanov and Limor Goldstein, two prominent figures of Israeli television and theatre has been shown in Cannes Film Festival 2007 in Official Selection and won the Tokyo Filmex Best Film Award the same year.
He lives now between Tel Aviv and Paris.
1. Tehilim (2007) (writer)
2. Avanim (2004) (writer)
3. Apartment #5C (2002) (writer)
... aka Apartment #5C (France)
4. I Am Josh Polonski's Brother (2001) (writer)
... aka I Am Josh Polonski's Brother (France)
5. P'tit bleu, Le (2000) (TV) (writer)
6. The Shade (1999) (writer)