Promised Land tells the story of a group of young unwitting Estonian girls smuggled through Egypt to be auctioned off as prostitutes in Israel, and of their initiation into this trade of flesh, and finally of the accidental freeing of one girl who most fights for her freedom. Promised Land both starts and ends in the darkness of night: the opening is a series of abstract images of the desert, where moonlight plays on a camel train led by Arab herders. We then see a border of barbed wire and a group of young women being led to the other side. This marks both the end and the beginning of their voyage, for all are Eastern Europeans destined to become part of the flesh trade, which clearly has a place in modern Israel. Their promised land is not a place of milk and honey, but instead quite the opposite: a sordid, anonymous, surreal non-place, where they are hustled and moved around like cattle, afforded little dignity, stripped of their individuality and sent out to pay their way. But in this dehumanizing world, Gitai nevertheless finds glimmers of humanity and, eventually, resistance: a madam (a tour-de-force cameo by the great Hanna Schygulla) provides solace for a distraught young woman, while other friendships slowly emerge amongst the women themselves. —IMDb
Born in Haifa in 1950, as the second son of architect Munio Weinraub and former Sionist activist Efratia Margalit. On the year of his birth, his parents changed the family name to “Gitai”, which is the Hebrew translation of the German name “Weinraub”. While he was a student in architecture, Amos Gitai joined the Yom Kippur war in 1973 as a reserve duty officer, and served as part of a helicopter rescue team. While serving during the war, he started filming with a 8mm camera his mother gave him as his birthday present. On his 23rd birthday, October 11th 1973, his helicopter was shot down by a Syrian missile. Among the 7 crews on board, 6 of them survived, including Gitai himself, who was inspired by this traumatic experience to quit architecture and move to filmmaking. He made a documentary on this incident and his fellow survivors, “Kippur: War Memories” in 1993, then a fictional recreation of it “Kippur” in 2000.
in 1979, Gitai directed his first feature-length documentary… read more
I was somehow afraid that I would feel disappointed with this film after having watched Gitai's Esther, which is enormous; but Promised Land is an example of how cinema should be made nowadays. It always flows on a good pace and uses outstanding montage as an essencial resource throughout most of the film.