9 Star Hotel



Koch Lorber Films

NEW YORK -- Impoverished laborers risking their health and safety by sneaking across international borders at night for the sake of receiving low wages to do the work that the other country's residents refuse to do. This is not a description of the U.S.' immigration problem but rather that of the situation depicted in "9 Star Hotel," Ido Haar's acclaimed documentary about Palestinian workers who cross the Israeli border to find jobs on construction sites. A multiple-award winner at festivals, including the best documentary award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, the film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Film Forum.

The filmmaker grew up in a village near the forest where the workers make their makeshift homes while trying to avoid Israeli security and police forces. Having gained their trust, he followed two of them in particular with a hand-held camera for several months.

They are Ahmed, a high-spirited young man who is fond of scavenging objects that he brings back to his family and six siblings, and the older Muhammad, a philosophizing type who laments what he considers the backward thinking of many of his people.

The film is more valuable for its intimate perspective on its subjects than as a serious analysis of the political and social conditions underlying their plight. But it boasts a powerful immediacy that well conveys the direness of their situation.