The Bubble (Hebrew: הבועה HaBuah)

The Bubble

The Bubble Official Movie Poster

The Bubble is a 2006 romantic drama directed by Israeli director Eytan Fox. Set in modern day Tel Aviv, The Bubble deals with the trials and tribulations of three young Tel Aviv residents: Lulu (Daniela Virtzer), an female political activist fighting against the occupation; Yali (Alon Friedman), the owner of a popular restaurant; and Noam (Ohad Knoller), a former member of the Israeli army who falls in love with Ashraf, a Palestinian man, after meeting him at a checkpoint. After spending a night with Noam in Tel Aviv, Ashraf decides to stay in Israel even though he doesn’t have Israeli citizenship. With the help of Lulu and Yali, Ashraf passes as an Israeli Jew called Shimi. Throughout the movie, the audience sees how Noam and Ashraf’s relationship develops and how far both are willing to go to keep their love intact.

When I was watching this movie, I noticed that the director was trying to tackle many issues that are prominent in the Middle East, issues like gay relationships, interracial relationships, the military occupation of Palestinians and Arab lands, and role-switching. In order for Ashraf to stay with the man he loves, he easily passes as an Israeli Jew. He is never questioned about his background and he is able to stay in character up into the point where Lulu’s ex-boyfriend exposes him as a Palestinian. Ashraf explains in the film that he cannot be openly gay in the conservative Palestinian territories and by passing as an Israeli Jew, he is able to be openly gay and lives the life he always wanted because Tel Aviv is a liberal, cosmopolitan city.

I think Eytan Fox does a wonderful job in showing the struggles of the modern-day Palestinian living in dichotomic environment, and he even steps it up by adding the “being gay in the Middle East” element to this film. With it multi-dimensional plot and well developed characters, I would recommend everyone in class to watch this film.

Click Here for the US Trailer of The Bubble

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4 Responses to The Bubble (Hebrew: הבועה HaBuah)

  1. Rachel Ison says:

    Your synopsis of the film reminds me of what Bardenstein talks about with regards to Fictitious Marriage. Although I haven’t seen either movie, what I gather from your analysis and Bardenstein’s, is that it seems this ability for a Palestinian to pass as an Israeli Jew encourages the viewer to question what actually is so different between Palestinians and Jews. As Bardenstein remarks, this realization that there may not be such a clear-cut distinction may be unsettling for people. It seems, then, that maybe the director of The Bubble is hoping to provoke this type of reaction by having Ashraf pass as an Israeli Jew–to show that the differences may not be so apparent.

  2. This sounds like such an interesting movie. I think the topic of being gay in the Middle East is such a controversial issue to incorporate in movies, but is necessary. Was the movie in Ashraf’s perspective or in Noam’s perspective. Also, was Ashraf Muslim? I think being gay in Islam is even more controversial, not only in the Middle East but everywhere. How do the other characters react to their relationship?

  3. Thanks for this interesting analysis. There is a fantastic documentary about gay relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, called Zero Degrees of Separation: http://www.graphicpictures.org/z1.htm.

    Also, check out this interesting & relevant upcoming event:

    *The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee & Progressive Jewish
    Alliance present:*
    *
    *
    *”Tel Aviv Night Clubs & West Bank Checkpoints: The Politics of Being Fabulo
    us in the Holy Land”*

    Please join us *Monday, March 5 at 7:30PM in Sever 103*
    for a discussion with Sa’ed Atshan, Harvard doctoral student and member of
    Al Qaws, a grassroots organization of LGBTQ Palestinians throughout Israel
    and the Occupied Palestinian Territories who work collaboratively to break
    down gendered and hetero-normative barriers.

    He will discuss the various ways in which discourses of LGBTQ rights are
    deployed strategically by Israel and Palestinians as part of the conflict.

    RSVP on Facebook here
    or contact
    shams@fas.harvard.edu for more info.

    And finally: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/opinion/pinkwashing-and-israels-use-of-gays-as-a-messaging-tool.html. This might position the film differently in terms of Israeli national politics. You can also check out the letters in response to the article on line.

  4. This film seems to bring up a fascinating array of issues. For one, it contradicts the assumed bipolarity of Israeli and Palestinian societies. As Shohat argues, there is a gradation of identities and Ashraf is at a sort of universally incompatible part of the spectrum. Although homosexuality is the issue addressed, I think the film shows further the sense of exclusion both societies impose on their members. An exclusion that probably makes them feel that the group they are a part of is, in reality, neither here nor there for them.

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