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Contact: Jette Englund

Kean University Jewish Film Festival Shows Sweet Mud

UNION, N.J. – The Kean University Spring 2008 Jewish Film Festival will be held on Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m. in Hutchinson Hall, Room J-100A, on the main campus located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, N.J. A voluntary donation of $5 may be paid at the door. The featured film is Sweet Mud, a 2006 production directed by Dror Shaul based in Shaul’s own screenplay.

“While the Israeli kibbutz has been idealized as a paragon of utopian movements, Sweet Mud tells a darker, more nuanced tale of a community ill equipped to cope with individuality and deviations from a rigidly defined norm, and of an adolescent boy stretching to compensate for what the collective cannot provide. Amidst lush fields and the idyllic landscape of a kibbutz in 1974, 12-year-old Dvir is entering his bar mitzvah year – a time for many initiations and trials. Dvir's father is dead, his brother is away in the army, and his mother, Miri, suffers from emotional instability.

While the collective handles the practical needs of every family, the intangible moral support one expects from a close-knit cooperative is scarce, and Dvir is left to care for beautiful, fragile Miri. When Miri's kindly boyfriend, Stephan, arrives from Switzerland, it seems that Miri, blissfully in love, may actually recover. But the "kibbutzniks," already resentful of a "noncontributing" guest, cast Stephan out after he tussles with another resident to defend Dvir.

The loss shatters Miri – and Dvir must pick up the pieces. Vividly capturing the vagaries of '70s kibbutz life with gorgeous, glowing camerawork, Sweet Mud is the painful coming-of-age of a child who marshals all his resources to nurture his own parent. The story also becomes a wrenching allegory for the casualties of any society that fails to tend to its members' vulnerabilities,” writes Caroline Libresco on behalf of Sundance Film Festival where the film was shown.