‘Princess’ takes a bow at Sundance
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‘Princess’ takes a bow at Sundance

Israeli film, which explores the fault lines of gender, puberty, family and sexuality, earns strong reviews at festival

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

A still from the trailer of 'Princess' (photo credit: YouTube)
A still from the trailer of 'Princess' (photo credit: YouTube)

This year’s Sundance Film Festival is not without Israeli representation.

In addition to Censored Voices, a controversial documentary about the military censorship encountered by soldiers during Israel’s Six Day War, audiences have also had a chance to view Princess, a dark, morbidly wacky coming-of-age tale from director Tali Shalom-Ezer.

Equal parts disturbing and beautiful, Princess follows a 12-year-old girl, Adar (Shira Haas), who is uncomfortably aware of the sexual relationship between her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

Adar is right on the cusp of puberty and her own sexual awakening, a fact that imbues every scene, especially those playful, touchy encounters with her mother’s boyfriend, with a perverse sense of shame and boundary-pushing.

Princess premiered at the 2014 Jerusalem Film Festival and won a slew of awards, including Best Feature Film and Best Actress.

Prior to the Sundance, it was well hyped internationally, earning a spot on Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2015 list, and since its screening in Park City, the reviews have been strong.

“Artful cinematography and subtle and sensitive performances from the cast… help make the case for this emotionally complex drama as one of the best films of the festival,” said Salt Lake Magazine in a review published Sunday.

Israeli films have a long legacy of doing well at Sundance.

In 2012, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts snagged the World Cinema Jury Prize, while Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat’s 5 Broken Cameras earned the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award.

In 2011, Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation took home the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, and Erez Kav-El won Best World Cinema Dramatic Screenplay for his film Restoration (also often called Boker Tov Adon Fidelman).

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