By Jacob Snyder, Contributor
Film Streams, together with the Natan and Hannah Schwab Center for Israeli and Jewish Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha, is screening a film series which offers moviegoers an opportunity to increase their knowledge about Israel and learn valuable life lessons.
These lessons can come from both the films and the discussions that follow. Casey Logan, communications director for Film Streams, said engaging in conversation led by professors and others who have given a great deal of thought on different topics is a unique opportunity.
“Those types of conversations can be really interesting and powerful,” Logan said. “They serve as a reminder of how seeing a movie in a theater atmosphere is really a shared experience. [It’s] something you don’t get watching a movie at home alone or with people you already know well.”
The first film in the series, “Restoration,” was screened April 12, and tells the story of Mr. Fidelman, the owner of a furniture restoration shop, and the complex relationships he has with his son, Noah, daughter-in-law and Anton, a man who comes to work for him.
Almost immediately, it’s obvious Noah’s relationship with his father is fragile. While Noah loves his father, he also is a businessman and that seems to be his priority. He illustrates this by going behind his father’s back to try to shut down the shop.
Anton compounds the problem by forming a close friendship with Fidelman. It seems that Anton “replaces” Noah and becomes the son Fidelman never had. Thus, more strain is put on an already fragile relationship.
Noah’s pregnant wife begins to have a physical relationship with Anton. Noah does not realize right away, but soon enough he begins to sense something is going on. Noah’s anger builds as his life falls apart.
Throughout the movie, Anton, maybe unconsciously, seems willing to be the “bad guy,” said one moviegoer. He comes in and creates chaos, but with the intent of helping to restore the relationships between the other characters.
“[Anton] is the nomad who comes from nowhere,” said Ran Kuttner, an associate professor of negotiations and dispute resolution at Creighton University and leader of the post-discussion. “He comes in and steers the situation, brings something new to it and then moves on.”
Amid all the turmoil, Fidelman is desperately trying to keep his business alive. He seeks a loan from the bank and a loan shark but neither oblige, saying he is nothing without Malamud, his business partner of 40 years who handled the finances.
Eventually every relationship gets to its breaking point. Fidelman’s defining moment was his realization that he needed to repair the relationship with his son, give up his shop and move forward. For Noah, it was choosing not to ruin the piano Anton and his father repaired to sell.
In all three instances, they were a moment of crisis, Kuttner said. But it’s a moment of crisis that is so essential on the way towards redemption. Being able to relate that kept me watching the movie as it continued to unfold. It was so interesting to see how the characters dealt with their crisis.
Ron Azolay, who is pursuing his doctorate in education administration at UNO, said Film Streams brings great movies that are about societal issues instead of things we hear in the media.
“Something the film touched on that I was really impressed with was restoring relationships and the ability to take conflict and grow from it, which is a theme anyone can benefit from,” Azolay said.