Melting Away

Expected to attend: director Doron Eran and screenwriter Billy Ben Moshe.

A detective hits the neon-lit streets of Tel Aviv with a simple case: find Assaf, the son Shlomo and Galya kicked out of the house four years ago. Mom Galya has always regretted their hardline reaction to “mommy’s boy” Assaf, whose teenaged tendency toward cross-dressing enraged his father. Now she has an even bigger incentive to reunite the family—Assaf’s father, Shlomo, is dying of cancer.

Finding Assaf is easy, but then the real complications begin. During his four year absence, Assaf has become Anna, the hit performer at a trans club in Tel Aviv. As her relatives grapple with this unwelcome information, Anna holds fast to her hard-won identity, despite rejection, repeated suggestions that she get therapy, and even violence. “Look at yourself,” she snaps at her uncle after a particularly ugly scene, “I’m the one who needs therapy?”

It’s the setup for an old-fashioned, three-handkerchief moviegoing experience, and both the film and star, Chen Yanni, have been winning awards at festivals around the world. The movie delivers plenty of poignancy and heartbreak, as well as the beginnings of hard-won acceptance. Anna models toughness and forgiveness for her appalled mother, teaching her both transgender tolerance and the true meaning of family. And as in many families, acceptance comes when and where you least expect it.

— MONICA NOLAN

In Hebrew with English subtitles.

Co-presented by:
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

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