Many consider this the best Israeli film ever. Produced in 1986 as a wild private venture by a team of students from the Film Department of the Tel Aviv University, this amazingly smooth blend between inspired poetry and biting satire, merging drama, farce and ultimately a tragic ending that is sadly enough still relevant, this film has lost none of its vigor and originality in the course of the 30 years since it was made. Two Egyptian soldiers are stranded, at the end of the Six Days War, at one end of the Sinai desert, trying to make their way home, across a territory fraught by obstacles of every kind, from land mines to Israeli patrols. A road movie featuring one of the most unexpected performances of Shylock's monologue from The Merchant of Venice and a glorious interpretation of Bandiera Rossa also known as Avanti Popolo, the hymn of the Italian socialists that none of the film's characters has ever heard about but nevertheless perfectly fits their purpose. After winning the TV competition at the Locarno Film Festival, the film fell into the wrong distribution hands and never achieved the recognition it deserves. The quality of the old prints suffered and new ones were not made until a joint effort by the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the Israeli Film Fund. Digitally-restored to prime condition, the film was first screened this summer at the Jerusalem Film Festival and will be screened next February, at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Rafi Bukai – the son of cinema owners who grew up in the projection cabin, he studied film at the Tel Aviv University, started Avanti Popolo as a graduation project which developed, as of its own accord, into a full scale feature. Following its success, Bukai travelled to New York where he stayed for a whole year collecting the materials for what was to be his second feature, Marco Polo, the Last Chapter - considered at the time the most expensive feature film ever shot in Israel. Later turning his attention to film production, he was responsible for Assi Dayan's Life According to Agfa and Gidi Dar's Eddie King and Ha'Ushpizin, the last one presented posthumously, after Bukai's death. Since the age of 19 when he was diagnosed with cancer, he had to struggle with the disease, until he passed away in December 2003 at the age of 47.
Screened at the 5th Arava International Film Festival (2016)