LISTEN

LISTEN

Director: Omri Bezalel

Genre: Fiction

Category: Drama

Production: Ilan Arboleda, Hezi Bezalel, Omri Bezalel, Vince P. Maggio / USA 2024

Cast: Eden Epstein, Anthony DeSando, Eric Freeman, Juliet Brett, Luke Slattery, Michael Hsu Rosen, Simon Belz, Erika Burke Rossa

Language: English, Arabic

Subtitles: English

Length: 96 minutes

”Listen” is a coming-of-age film, a unique and daring portrayal of the moral ambiguity, love, and loss faced by soldiers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The story follows a determined young officer in Israel’s elite military intelligence unit, whose daily task involves listening in on the family of a suspected terrorist. But her routine takes an abrupt turn when she is suddenly thrust into a race against the clock to find a captured Israeli soldier hidden in Gaza. When Israel is faced with a prisoner swap that includes the man who killed her dad, she will stop at nothing to keep her father’s killer from freedom.

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Festivals & Awards:

 

Movie Reviews:

* « The feature film “Listen,” a 96-minute thriller directed by Omri Bezalel could come right out of today’s headlines: “A brilliant officer in the 8200 intelligence unit of the IDF struggles to come to terms with the death of her beloved father in a terrorist attack. When Hamas takes an Israeli soldier hostage in Gaza and demands a prisoner swap that includes her dad’s killer, she is faced with a critical dilemma and comes up with a revenge-driven plot to settle the score.” » LIFF’s Darkhouse Films Often Follow Longtime Horror and Sci-Fi Templates / Rick Mellerup / The SandPaper

* « A thought provoking intense espionage thriller, that is as multilayered, morally ambivalent, and highly critical towards the military apparatus, as it is timely during these politically charged days in the wake of the Israel- Hamas war and the hostages crisis in Gaza. » Listen / Lighthouse International Film Festival

* « This sleek and intelligently crafted high-concept Israeli thriller presents a masterclass in wringing breathless tension. » Listen / Miami Jewish Film Festival

* In Conversation: LISTEN | Miami Jewish Film Festival 2024


Director's statement:

Before each mission in the military, we played the “Headlines Game,” guessing what our headline would be in the next morning’s newspaper if we were killed that night. This dark humor helped us cope with being 20-year-old boys-turned-men, tasked with taking sometimes difficult actions to protect the country we love.

Years later, a friend who had served in Unit 8200, the elite intelligence unit that is the subject of this film, shared the unit’s tradition of hanging ironic obituaries of their targets: terrorists who were listened to their death by soldiers with headphones.

I realized it was irrelevant whether you were a 24-year-old Naval Commando or a 19-year-old girl wearing headphones in an office in Tel Aviv. We all need a way to deal with an impossible situation.

We have seen many films about the Commando, but we rarely focus on those who gather the intelligence that allows the lone soldier to go on his missions. In the vein of Zero Dark Thirty and The Lives of Others, this film explores what it does to a soldier’s psyche to intimately know their enemy and his family, and to kill him not with weapons but with brains.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex but often simplified into polarizing black and white. This film delves into the gray area. How do you weigh lives against one another when the nature of war is that some lives are worth more? In a country where every civilian is at one point a soldier, where do you draw the line between soldier and civilian? How do you protect a country while retaining your humanity, sanity, and even sense of humor? How do you do the right thing, and who decides what the “right” thing is?

Once we’ve decided what’s good and what’s evil, we are dead creatively. Once there’s judgement, there’s no journey. The film tries to avoid both by presenting a situation and characters who do what they think is right. While we may not agree with the characters or their actions, and while their actions may not change our minds about the situation, these characters open us to a different point of view: soldiers aren't ruthless executioners, terrorists aren't emotionless murderers, Palestinians aren't helpless victims, and Israelis aren't stoic occupationists. They are all people in a conflict zone who want the same things people everywhere want—to love, to laugh, to feel safe. And so they do what people everywhere do. Their best.

 

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