No Happy Ending to This Movie

"The suicide bombing will be the middle of our movie. Before that will come the dream. It will be shattered by the bombing and then we will film `how to go on,'" says Josh Padam who is making a documentary about Mike's Place.

Roni Singer-Heruti
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Roni Singer-Heruti

"The suicide bombing will be the middle of our movie. Before that will come the dream. It will be shattered by the bombing and then we will film `how to go on,'" says Josh Padam who is making a documentary about Mike's Place. Padam, who has lived here for several years, met his girlfriend, Pavla Fleischer, while they were studying film-making in Prague and she decided to join him in Tel Aviv two weeks ago.

"As soon as I came back to Israel, I decided to rejoin my `family' at Mike's. Gal, the owner, offered me work as a barman," he says. There Padam met another film-maker, Jack Baxter, an American who had come to Israel to make a film about the trial of Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti. "He decided there were already too many films about the trial, so he would make a movie about the pub," says Padam.

"Jack kept saying how surprised he was that life in Israel is so different from what people think abroad. He wanted to show in the movie that life here is actually quite usual, perhaps not normal but not what they think." Padam and Fleischer decided to join Baxter. "We shot 14 videos in two weeks. We even went to Jerusalem to film Mike's Place there.

They decided to concentrate on a few main figures - Dominique, the waitress who came here from Paris, who died in yesterday morning's attack; Avi, the guard; a waitress from Finland called Sarah; owner Gal; and Louis, the Arab cook. "We wanted to show the melting-pot in the pub, the joie de vivre, the family atmosphere. Dominique talks about how it is to live in the shadow of terror in Israel and says she sometimes went to the site of an attack to feel how life goes on."

The three film-makers were at a table outside the pub on Tuesday night, taking occasional shots. The couple got up to dance. "The atmosphere was incredible. The band, most of whom we all knew, were playing Blues and people were dancing. It was great fun. Then we heard the blast. When we ran out, we found Jack lying wounded on the floor."

Fleischer is afraid but says she will remain in Israel to finish the film. "We are not sure which way to continue. Jack wanted a movie about how life is normal here and how people are not afraid. How can we show that message now? The camera filmed something else."

Padam says the movie cannot have a happy ending now. The guard, Avi Taviv, is shown moving to the rhythm of the music a few minutes before the blast.

Now he is in Intensive Care and his friends are praying he will live. "We were not surprised he blocked the terrorist with his body. That is Avi. He was devoted to the job." He knew his work was dangerous but he was never afraid, his friends say.

Early yesterday morning, Michael Sorkisov, who last October prevented a suicide bomber from blowing up the next-door Tayelet cafe - arrived on the scene. "I remember what happened to me," he said, checking the damage at Mike's Place.

Then he had to get back to work. Since October, Sorkisov has been promoted to supervisor and he is now responsible for a whole team of guards all over the city.

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