Amos Gitai - Yoni Markovich - 03112011
Amos Gitai at the Haifa architecture museum during renovations. Photo by Yoni Markovich
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An Israeli short film by Amos Gitai is to be part of an international project in which 10 leading directors will make movies about religion.

The Israeli movie, called "Book of Amos," is now being shot in Tel Aviv.

The project, entitled "Words with Gods," was initiated by Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, who wrote the screenplays for the movies "Babel" and "21 Grams." Arriaga undertook a similar enterprise in 2002 called "September 11," bringing together international cinema figures, including Gitai, to create movies around another common issue - the attack on the World Trade Center.

Gitai said Arriga approached him a few weeks ago to direct a short film on the subject of God. "I told them I'm not religious, but what I love about the biblical text is that it is critical... For example, King David, who was very much admired, is presented in the Bible as an immoral person because he desired Bathsheba and therefore he sent Uriah into battle. The greatness of the biblical editor is that he chose not to take that out, so people would see that it's alright to criticize the monarchy."

Seven actors will play three prophetesses and four prophets in Gitai's 12-minute production - Yael Abecassis, Ruti Asersai, Sarai Givaty, Zohar Shtrauss, Eran Sabag, Shadi Sarur and Arnon Ophir. A 43-voice choir from Haifa will also take part.

Gitai said he chose to focus on Amos for the same reason his parents chose that name for him, because Amos criticized the bourgeoisie. "He called the bourgeoisie 'fat cows of Bashan,' who oppress the poor and the downtrodden. The film 'Book of Amos' is my chance to pay homage to this text," Gitai said.

"Words with Gods" is to be presented next year in the presence of all the participating directors, at a major international film festival.