Directors' Showcase / International premiere


  • Tali Shalom Ezer /
  • Israel /
  • 2008 /
  • 57 mins

Amir Wolf, Lana Etinger, Rosina Kambus, Liat Glick, Lasha Shimshoni, Michal Kalman, Yonatan Swirski / Fiction / Hebrew

A startling vision of human damage and connectedness.

Screening with: The Song of the Dead Children - David Pablos | Mexico | 2008 | 32 min

Professional sex surrogacy is a contentious issue. Many would recognise that the use of physical contact as part of therapy for those with sexual issues makes a certain psychological sense – but payment for sexual services nonetheless carries a heavy stigma. Then there’s the emotional position in which the surrogate finds herself (it’s usually a her). Where are the boundaries in a relationship that by necessity involves physical and emotional intimacy? This thoughtful and unpredictable drama by young Israeli writer/director Tali Shalom Ezer doesn’t take an obvious moral position on the profession of the titular surrogate, Hagar (Lana Etinger), though it does encourage us to feel the warmth and force of personality with which she envelops her latest client, Eli (Amir Wolf). A deeply disturbed and solitary young man, Eli, responds tentatively to Hagar’s brand of therapy; but the more he connects with her, the more he opens up, and the more he opens up the more he’s at risk of confusion over the limits of their bond. If you’ve never felt romantic love or physical passion, how do you distinguish a therapeutic introductory guide to those feelings from a taste of the real thing? Then there’s Hagar – what drives her to share herself in this way, and how close does she get to overstepping the line herself? Etinger and Wolf play this edgy relationship with compelling sensitivity, and Shalom Ezer’s skilful direction and multi-layered writing keep us guessing about where the relationship is going. Not just a two-hander, though, Surrogate also opens out to show us elements of Eli’s outside life, and glimpses of just what might have made him into the creature that he is. Emotion provides all of the drama here, giving Surrogate the immediacy and intensity of the best Danish Dogme work; but Shalom Ezer is markedly resistant to the kind of histrionics to which those films were sometimes prone. Surrogate has an elegance and restraint that makes its messages about human damage and connectedness all the more affecting, and its shocks all the harder to foresee.

Screening with:

The Song of the Dead Children

  • David Pablos /
  • Mexico /
  • 2008 /
  • 32 mins

From Mexico comes David Pablos' extraordinary, poetic and disturbing drama The Song of the Dead Children, in which a group of siblings respond to a family tragedy by rejecting adult authority and exercising their own brutal form of justice. Surrogate, from Israel and directed by Tali Shalom Ezer, explores the delicate relationship between a troubled young man and the woman employed to provide him with sexual therapy.

In this stunning and disturbing short film from Mexico, troubled siblings address their family history in their own primal fashion, and hand out rough justice to the man they see as architect of their unhappiness.

Director: David Pablos
Producers: Abigail Alonso, Carmin Romero, Dagoberto Marquez
Exec Producer: Angeles Castro
Scriptwriter: David Pablos
Editor: David Pablos
DoP: Hatuey Viveros
Sound Production: Rodrigo Lira
Music: Carlo Ayhllon

2009 Archive

Image from Surrogate

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  • #1 Stuart Wood / Tuesday 23 June, 2009 / 14:29 GMT

    This is an amazing film that I'm glad was recommended to me by a fellow press member and urge everyone to see who can.

    It's just a shame it is now more associated with Ken Loach's ill-judged meddling and the whole related political debacle than being able to stand simply on it's own merits.
  • #2 Richard Brunton / Tuesday 23 June, 2009 / 22:11 GMT

    That'll be me Stuart! Totally agree, and I've been writing about this for some time, the film has nothing to do with the politics and it's being harshly pre-judged by people who would be the first to complain if the tables were turned. Shame, this is a gorgeous film.

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