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Ijiwaru Sensei

James' Journey to Jerusalem

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Here's my blurb on the film from the VIFF 2003 thread:

The first film I watched was
James' Journey to Jerusalem
(Israel, 90 min.), which is about a devout Christian who plans to become a pastor in his village back in Africa but first he goes on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; he is enthusiastic when he meets his first "Hebrew", but the jaded immigration officer jails him on arrival, and he is bailed out by a Jewish man who gets immigrants like him to work odd jobs for various clients. The film is eyecatching if only because, when one thinks of Israeli culture, one tends not to think of black African immigrants, and if one does, one tends to think of JEWISH black African immigrants (like the so-called 'Falasha' Jews) and not of Christian ones; the film is also quite earcatching, since the dialogue slips back and forth between English and Hebrew, both of which are pronounced in a variety of accents (ALL of the dialogue was subtitled on the preview tape). (Re: the national and religious details, I can't recall if the film ever specified what country James is from or what denomination he attends while in Israel, but James does mention that he speaks Zulu, and the end credits refer to South African casting agents and Assemblies of God churches that helped with the film.) But having said all that, there wasn't a whole lot to latch onto here. The one word that everybody uses in this film is "frayer" (pronounced "friar"), which apparently means something like "chump" -- a "frayer" is a person who lets himself be exploited by other people, and what James learns very quickly is that he has to find a way to exploit others for his benefit instead of allowing himself to become the exploited one; and with his success as an exploiter, of course, comes money and material things, blablabla. There could have been an interesting story in this, but I don't think this film is it. It especially began to lose me when it introduced a subplot revolving around the fact that James rolls nothing but double-sixes every time he rolls a pair of dice; not only is this a hokey device, but the film expects us to believe that people would allow themselves to be swindled by a guy who never rolls ANYTHING but that.

Is "frayer" the word you are looking for?

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Is "frayer" the word you are looking for?

Yes, "frayer" is the word I couldn't remember. Thank you.

I agree with you that the film is rather flat. I thought, however, that the performance by Siyabonga Shibe, who played James, was exceptional.

Edited by Ijiwaru Sensei

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