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Campfire (2004)—IsraelCampfire (2004)—Israel

Set in 1981, Rachel Gerlik is a forty-two year old widow with two adolescent girls, struggling to move beyond grief. Feeling very much isolated, it is her "life dream," she says, to join the founders of a new settlement in the West Bank. The selection committee is dubious about including a single woman, and her two girls accuse her of "sucking up" to them in her neediness to be wanted. Esti, her older daughter, acts out with an Israeli soldier, while the younger Tami gets more attention than she bargained for at the settlement's youth group bonfire. Into this mix steps Yossi, an older bachelor-bus driver who also describes himself as a left-out, overlooked outsider. When Tami's reputation is publicly smeared, Rachel's stock sinks even lower with the settlement's leaders. In the end, she spurns the settlers in favor of her outsider status with Yossi and her two girls. Campfire is a personal rather than a political film, although some Israelis have criticized writer-director Joseph Cedar for smearing his Zionist family roots. The film won five Israeli Academy Awards and was Israel's entry for the 2004 Academy Award competition as Best Foreign-Language. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

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