Eitan Gorlin’s “The Holy Land,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at 2002’s Slamdance Film Festival, makes its New York debut. The film is set in 1999 and follows a rabbinical student in Israel whose teacher has instructed him to visit a prostitute in order to relieve his sexual curiosity. Mendy moves to Jerusalem, where he meets a young Russian prostitute named Sasha, with whom he falls in love. Mendy also befriends an American named Mike, a former war photographer who owns a bar called Mike’s Place. Mendy becomes a bartender there and explores the secular world through its patrons. Among these is Razi, a Palestinian “real estate broker” who serves as a middleman between Jewish settlers and Palestinian landowners, and an M-16-wielding American-born Jewish settler known as “The Exterminator.”
“The Holy Land” raises questions about God’s role in the lives of its characters as well as about how unlikely camaraderie sometimes exists amid the Middle East’s violence. Gorlin, who was raised in an Orthodox home in Washington, based many of his characters on individuals he met while living in Israel in the early 1990s, when he himself tended bar at Mike’s Place. Gorlin joins cast members for a post-screening discussion at the Cinema Arts Centre on July 19 and at the Malverne Cinema on July 20.
— LISA SOPHER
Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St.; open-ended run begins July 11, daily 11 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., additional Fri.-Sat. screening 12:25 a.m.; $10, $6.50 seniors and children (212-995-2000 or www.theholylandmovie.com); Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington; July 19, 7 p.m.; $8.50, $7 students and seniors, $4.50 children. (631-423-FILM or www.cinemaartscentre.org); Malverne Cinema, 350 Hempstead Ave., Malverne; July 20, 3:20 p.m.; $7.50, $5 children and seniors. (516-599-6966)