Shake Your Cares Away
Following the death of her millionaire husband, a young widow carries a restless urge to help people in need. Her unconventional methods of philanthropy will bring her to a journey of self-discovery.
Title: Shake Your Cares Away
Directed by: Tom Shoval
Premiere & awards: Jerusalem Film Festival 2021
Produced by: Green Productions – Israel, One Two Films – Germany
In co-production with: Les Compagnons du Cinema -France, , Kinoprime - Russia
Countries: Israel, France, Germany, Russia
The unexpected death of Noah Arbel, an Israeli tycoon, leaves his newly wed Alma as the richest widow in Israel. She inherits his fortune and his monumental villa in Caesarea. When she encounters a desolate homeless woman and her baby, her vision of her surroundings sharpens, and her conscious is awakened. She invites them into her villa and pays for all their needs. With this act of kindness, she feels that she found her calling, causing her to raise the stakes even higher, becoming a 'savior' to the refugees and lost souls of the country, . These acts of radical philanthropy give Alma her lost sense of purpose but is also exposing her to systems of dark forces, interests and exploitation.
"Shake Your Cares Away" wishes to examine the most treasured act of human kind – the good deed. What is it about this action that stirs all these feelings in us? Why is “doing good” such a remarkable, out of the ordinary action that we so rarely take upon ourselves, rather than a common everyday gesture? The heroine of this film – Alma – the heiress of great wealth, decides to devote her life to help those in need, thus willing to spend all of her immense fortune to realize this cause. This film’s purpose is not to solve a mysterious, contradictory character like Alma, but only to exhibit Alma’s behavior and its sideeffects; to show the troubles and complications it creates for her while she herself works wonders for others. We can perhaps compare the emotional impact at the core of this film to the feelings that one experiences when one encounters a beggar asking for charity. Such an encounter usually provokes in us mixed notions – is this beggar “worth” our money, what will he actually do with it, is he really in need? Our morals are questioned as we constantly seek the truth behind this encounter – are we witnessing an honest presentation of reality or a false one? Are we being accosted by a sincere human being or are we being taken for fools? And, perhaps most importantly, we wonder how others will perceive our reaction in such a situation. When we drop a few coins in the beggar’s hand, we are actually exposing ourselves, in our most naked and raw form. With this film I would like to continue down the path I chose for my first film, "Youth", which employed mixed tones and blurred the lines between genres. In addition, the film will feature echoes of two main cinematic inspirations. For one, Alma’s character is a reflection of Ingrid Bergman’s character in Roberto Rossellini’s "Europe ’51". Secondly, "Shake Your Cares Away" is deeply engaged with Luis Buñuel’s monumental "Viridiana". Buñuel’s film serves me as a guide, both in terms of style and tone. I would like to expand upon the questions Buñuel asks in "Viridiana", not only regarding the religious aspect of “doing good” and human guilt (which originated in Christianity in his case, whereas my film explores the aspect of giving through the lens of Judaism and includes a similar, central holiday-dinner set piece). Like that monumental film, the story of Alma will be told with an implied wink at the audience, and will feature moments of subtle irony and absurdity, as if to warn us that nothing has changed.
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