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46th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Monday, April 21, 2003
Penny Woolcock U.K., 2003

Based on the infamous 1985 Achille Lauro incident, in which four Palestinians hijacked a cruise ship and killed a Jewish passenger before finally surrendering, John Adams's controversial 1991 opera now seems especially relevant in its evenhanded, humanizing treatment of both Israeli and Palestinian suffering. Penny Woolcock's adaptation, filmed at actual locations across the Middle East, uses the cinematic medium to flesh out the stories of each protagonist with flashbacks, fictional narratives, archival footage, and added dramatizations, creating a world as immediate as any documentary, yet as theatrical as the greatest operas.

• Written by Woolcock. Photographed by Graham Smith. With Christopher Maltman, Dean Robinson, Vivian Tierney, Tom Randle. (120 mins)