9 Star Hotel (2006)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

Original Title: Malon 9 Kochavim

, 2006.   Cinematography by .   Produced by .  Film Editing by Ido Haar.

Documentary filmmaker Ido Haar takes his cameras to Modi’in, Israel, where he grew up and where his parents still live, which at the time he filmed this documentary is still thriving with construction projects.  The majority of workers on these new structures are Palestinians hired under labour permits, but with the government’s recent decision to reduce the permits being issued, a number of men find themselves unable to support their families.  This, naturally, leads to young men working jobs under the table, sneaking into the city before sunrise or, as in the case of the subjects of this film, creating something of a community of shacks in the hills to allow them to get more easily to their workplace.

This, of course, means that they are vulnerable to whatever fate befalls them, including illness and injury as well as authorities constantly on the lookout to deport them back to their homes.  Haar gives the lion’s share of attention to a small group, one of them a mischievous collector of found items, another happy to hold discussions about what he thinks his own people fail at in their progress in the world.  Far from their families and under a great deal of stress, these guys still manage to find the time to have lengthy discussions about politics and culture and display a great deal of optimism and humour.  In a short seventy-eight minute running time, the film manages to give us an intimacy with its subjects that makes their plight very moving.

European Film Award Nomination:  Best European Documentary

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