Synopsis: 

The story of Nicolai begins in a tiny, remote village in the Romanian region of Moldavia. With the collapse of communism, Nicolai, like many thousands of other villagers, suddenly found himself out of work, so he decided to seek his fortune overseas, far from his family and home. For three years he worked as a guest laborer in Israel, exploited to the hilt by the company that sent him there. He had little contact with his wife, who gave birth to his second child in his absence. Finally determined to gain control of his destiny, Nicolai fled his employer and became an “illegal.” He was caught by the police and sent to prison, but suddenly his life took an abrupt turn. Nicolai plays himself in this film, and relives the dramatic events of his life. As his story unfolds, the film raises questions about our own lives in Israel and the laws that define our national identity. 

Technical:

54 min., Romanian/Hebrew þþþ,color, DigiBeta.

Director: David Ofek (A film by: David Ofek and Elinor Kowarsky)

Cinematographer: Dror Lebendiger

Screenwriter: David Ofek

Editor: Arik Lahav–Leibovich 

Producers: Edna Kowarsky, Elinor Kowarsky 

  • Best Documentary Film Award, The Wolgin competition, The Jerusalem International Film Festival, Israel, July 2008
  • In Competition- World Premier , Vision’s du Reel Film Festival – Nyon, Switzerland, April 2009
  • The goEast Humanity Aspect Award in remembrance of Reinhard Kämpf , goEast – 9th Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, Germany, April 2009
  • In Competition, The Syracuse International Film Festival, USA, April 2009
  • Official Selection INPUT – International Public TV Screening Conference, Poland, May 2009
  • In Competition, 6th International Film Festival Jewish Motifs, Poland, April 2009
  • In Competition, CRONOGRAF- International Documentary FF, Moldova, October 2009
  • In Competition, Rodos International Film & Visual Arts festival ECOFILMS – “medium film competition”, Greece, June 2009
  • Official Selection San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, USA, June 2009
  • In Competition, AsterFest Film Festival, Macedonia, May 2008
  • Nominee, Best Documentary Film, Israeli Film Academy Awards 2009
  • In Competition, Shanghai TV Festival, China, June 2009
  • In Competition, Festival of Liberties, Belgium, October 2009
  • Official Selection Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, USA, December 2009
  • Official Selection Boston Jewish Film Festival, USA, November 2009
  • In Competition, Dallas Video Festival, USA, November 2009
  • Official Selection UK Jewish Film Festival, UK, November 2009
  • Audience Award , 10 Mediterranean Film Festival in Siroki Brijeg ,Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 2009
  • Marshall Award – of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship , documentART – European Film Festival, Germany/Poland, October 2009
  • In Competition , 10th Astra FF, Romania, October 2009
  • Official Selection Hong Kong Jewish FF, Hong Kong, November 2009
  • Official Selection Washington Jewish FF, USA, December 2009
  • Best Documentary Award ,The Israeli Documentary Filmmakers´ Forum Competition, Israel, September 2009
  • In Competition , The 11th Mumbai Film Festival (India, October 2009)
  • Official Selection Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, Canada, November 20009
  • Official Selection International 1001 Documentary Film Festival Istanbul (Turkey, December 2009)
  • In Competition , – Levante International Film Festival, Italy, November 2009
  • Official Selection The 24th Israel Film Festival – NY & Miami (USA, December 2009)
  • In Competition, SRG Prize – BaKaFORUM Contest 2010, Germany, January 2010
  • Official Selection BELDOCS 2010 International Documentary Film Festival, Serbia, April 2010
  • In Competition, Film IsReal! Festival for New Israeli Cinema , The Netherlands, April 2010
  • In Competition, TRT International Documentary Film Competition, Turkey, May 2010
  • Official Selection , Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema, USA, October 2010.
  • Official Selection , Heimat Film Festival, Austria, August 2010).
  • YES-doco, Israel
  • Makor Foundation for Israeli films
  • Radio Canada, Canada

“For its ironic and critical attitude toward the Law of Return and the status of guest workers in Israel. The Jury appreciated the film’s originality and its use of humor in a work that deals with such a sensitive and complicated issue. (The Jerusalem international film festival Jury’s statement) 

“A human comedy with shadings of satire and irony, A film that challenges the traditional definitions of documentary, raising extremely relevant questions about contemporary film-making.” (Uri Klein, Ha’aretz) 

David Ofek, a graduate of the ”Sam Spiegel” Film School in Jerusalem, was awarded the Wolgin Prize in the past for his short films ”Home“ and ”Hi-Tech Dreams”. Co-creator of the popular TV series ”Bat-Yam—New-York“ and “Melanoma my Love,“ Ofek directed the film ”No. 17“ which won the Israeli Academy Award for ”Best Documentary“ as well as other international Awards. 2006 Director of “Melanoma my love” (113 min, 35 mm) Montreal world film festival – Official selection Seoul Drama Awards – nominee Director of the documentary “A Hebrew lesson” (124 min, Beta) Best director and Best editing – Jerusalem film festival 2006 2003 Director of the documentary “No. 17” (76 min, Beta) Best Film – DocAviv (Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival) Best Documentary – Israeli Academy Awards Special Jury Award – Hot Docs International Film Festival 2004/ International Press Award – Chicago Documentary Film Festival/ Best Documentary – Syracuse International Film Festival/ Amsterdam Documentary festival (IDFA)/ New directors/new films – New York “Input” conference – Denmark 2002 Director and scriptwriter of debut feature film “The Barbecue People”(103 min) Silver Ombú for Best Screenplay – Mar del Plata Film Festival, Argentina/ Best Dramatic Film – Dahlonega Film Festival, Atlanta Best Film – Washington Independent Film Festival Participated in over 25 international festivals, including Sao-Paulo, Istanbul, Hamburg 2000 Creator of series “Take-Away” for Israeli cable TV and director of four episodes Nominated for Best Series – Israeli Academy Awards 1999 Director of documentary “5 Love Stories” (58 min, Beta) Best Film – Doc-Aviv 2000 Best Documentary – Israeli Film Festival, US Participated in documentary festivals in Taiwan and Greece Co-producer of documentary “Martin” by Ra’anan Alexandrovitz Volgin Prize for Best Documentary – Jerusalem Festival Director of documentary “Spanish Orchard in America” for Israel’s Channel 2 Jerusalem film festival – The Jewish spirit 1995-7 Director of the three seasons of “Bat-Yam New York” Best Television Drama – Israeli Academy Awards Participated in “Input” conference 1994 Student director of graduation film “Home” (17 min, 16 mm) Volgin Prize for Best Short Film – Jerusalem Film Festival First Prize in Short Film Competition – Edinburgh International Festival First Prize – Oberhausen Festival, Germany/ Best Israeli Film – International Students’ Festival, Tel Aviv/ First Prize – Israeli Film Festival, US/ Special jury Award – San Francisco Festiva / Participated in 50 festivals including New York and London 1992 Student director of “Hi-teq Dreams” (28 min, Beta) Volgin Prize for Best Short Film – Jerusalem Festival 1993 Israeli Cinema Institute Prize for best Documentary, 199/ Best documentary at the school graduation ceremony/ Participated in the London Festival 

I was immediately drawn to the saga of Nicolai because of the so-called “revolving door” effect. His story comprises two distinct narratives which are essentially identical, except for a single word … and it is this one word that means everything. I have decided to retell the events in the style of a traditional Jewish fable. While always amusing, the story still leaves us with much to think about when it reaches its conclusion.