The story tells 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 to the accidental freeing of the one girl who most fought 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.
Directed by Amos Gitai
Writing credits Amos Gitai, Marie-Jose Sanselme
Rosamund Pike.... Rose
Diana Bespechni.... Diana
Hanna Schygulla.... Hanna
Anne Parillaud.... Anne
Alla An.... Alla
Kristina Likhnyski.... Kristina
Katya Drabkin.... Katya
Yussuf Abu-Warda.... Yussuf
Amos Lavi.... Hezi
Shalva Ben-Moshe.... Igor
Craig Bachins.... Greg
Meital Peretz.... Meital
Menachem Lang.... Menahem
Ran Kauchinsky.... Rani
Peeter Polluveer.... Peeter
AMOS GITAI - director
Amos Gitai was studying architecture, following in his father?s footsteps, when the Yom Kippur War interrupted his studies and it was the use of his Super8 camera, whilst flying helicopter missions that led to his career as a filmmaker.
Based in Israel, the United States and France, Gitai has produced an extraordinary, wide-ranging, and deeply personal body of work. In around 40 films ? documentary and fiction, Gitai has explored the layers of history in the Middle East and beyond, including his own personal history, through such themes as homeland and exile, religion, social control and utopia. His trademark style includes long takes with scarce but significant camera movements and a devilishly clever sense of humour.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Gitai directed numerous documentaries, including HOUSE and FIELD DIARY. During the same era, Gitai received his Ph.D in architecture from the University of California ? Berkeley.
Following the controversial reception to FIELD DIARY, Gitai moved to Paris in 1983, where he was based for the next ten years and during this period continued to travel widely directing such documentaries as PINEAPPLE ? a humorous odyssey about the growth and marketing of pineapples. He also made BRAND NEW DAY ? a film that followed Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics as they toured Japan.
During this period he began directing fiction and historical films about the experience of exile. These films include the Venice critic's prize-winning BERLIN JERUSALEM and the extraordinary trilogy on the Jewish legend of Golem.
In the mid-90s Gitai moved to Haifa and began the most fertile, productive period of his career to date. Over 10 years, Gitai made some 15 films, both documentary and fiction. The 1995 feature DEAVARIM marked the return to his country and his reunion with the light and landscape of Tel Aviv. The first film in Gitai's trilogy of Israeli cities, DEVARIM was followed by YOM YOM (shot in Haifa) and KADOSH (shot in Mea Shearim, the Jerusalem district of Orthodox Jews). Other fiction features followed: 2000?s KIPPUR, 2001's EDEN, 2002?s KEDMA, 2003?s ALILA and 2004?s PROMISED LAND.
Gitai?s work has been the subject of major retrospectives, notably at Centre Pompidou (Paris), NFT and ICA (both in London), and cinematheques in Madrid, Jerusalem, Paris, Sao Paolo, Tokyo and Toronto. Future retrospectives are scheduled later this year at New York?s Lincoln Center and Berlin?s Kunstwerk.