Post-Apocalyptic Tel Aviv

What’s with all the Israel-centric science fiction stories these days? I’m not even talking about Assaf Gavron’s magical-realist novel about a Tel Aviv techie who keeps surviving suicide bombings, which or Lavie Tidhar’s anthology of science fiction stories from around the world (including two from Israeli authors and one from a Palestinian). I mean this new short movie.

Radium takes place, according to the film’s website, “15 years after the nuclear bomb was dropped on the Nation of Israel.” (That’s the nuclear bomb,” not “a nuclear bomb,” which might just be an ESL slip, but it’s probably more purposely foreboding than that.)

The film looks convincingly desolate and wasted, as you can see, although the creepy part is how similar it looks — in the backgrounds, the architecture, the way people dress (and, uh, the guns they carry) — to contemporary Israel. Are people covering their faces with kaffiyehs and ragged military clothes because they’re Arabs and IDF, or because of trade-winds carrying nuclear debris? It looks pretty ambiguous in the trailer, and I’d guess the film isn’t much more forthcoming. But the sense of tension and danger-around-the-corner is not at all unfamiliar.

The plot of the film centers on Layla, “a strong and determined woman,” who wanders the ruined city in search of her boyfriend, who might be dead. And that’s about all we know, for now. Strangely, Tidhar and Nir Yaniv recently co-wrote the novel The Tel Aviv Dossier (you can read the first three chapters here), which is about nearly the same thing. Coincidence? Or something more? You decide.

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