Yellow Asphalt: Three Desert Stories

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Shot against the austere landscape of Israel's Judean desert, these three taut short films explore the conflicts that divide Israelis and the Bedouin nomads who've wandered this land for centuries. In the first, "Black Spot," a fuel truck driven by two Israelis (Zevik Raz, Moshe Ivgi) is barreling down a lonely strip of desert highway when it strikes...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Shot against the austere landscape of Israel's Judean desert, these three taut short films explore the conflicts that divide Israelis and the Bedouin nomads who've wandered this land for centuries.

In the first, "Black Spot," a fuel truck driven by two Israelis (Zevik Raz, Moshe Ivgi) is barreling down a lonely strip of desert highway when it strikes and kills a Bedouin youngster. Instead of going for help, the drivers move the boy's lifeless body to the side of the road and try to make a run for it. But by the time they get the truck started, the drivers are surrounded by a band of Bedouin men. The drivers are certain they're about to be butchered, but the tense moment is defused by an unexpected exchange that reveals much about both sides. In "Here Is Not There," the conflict between cultures plays out on a much more intimate level. Tamam (Tatjana Blacher), the German wife of a Bedouin (Abed Zuabi), tells the tribe elders she no longer loves her husband and requests permission to return home with their two daughters: She can't get accustomed to the rigors of Bedouin life and tradition. Permission is denied, so that night Tamam gathers her children and what few belongings she can carry and makes her daring escape into the night and the desert. "Red Roofs," the third and longest film in the trilogy, is also the most complex. Israeli onion farmer Shmuel (Motti Katz) and his wife, Anat (Hagit Keler), employ two Bedouin workers. Abed (Sami Samir) helps Shmuel in the fields, while Suhilla (Raida Adon) works as a maid in the house. Suhilla also happens to be Shmuel's lover, and when the two are caught in flagrante delicto by a group of Bedouin boys, she's badly beaten by her husband. Desperate and afraid for her life, Suhilla runs to Shmuel for help. But he's worried about his own family and possible reprisals from the Bedouins, so Shmuel turns his back on Suhilla and orders Abed to help her to disappear. When Suhilla's family comes looking for her, Abed, now fully implicated in her disgrace, finds himself caught in the middle of a serious culture clash that has tragic repercussions. Shot over the course of seven years ("Black Spot" was completed in 1994), these three films form a remarkably cohesive whole, both visually and thematically, through their consistently sensitive and often exciting treatment of an ignored people. Throughout, the desert remains an impassive backdrop: ancient, eternal and remarkably beautiful.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Shot against the austere landscape of Israel's Judean desert, these three taut short films explore the conflicts that divide Israelis and the Bedouin nomads who've wandered this land for centuries. In the first, "Black Spot," a fuel truck driven by two… (more)

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