By Admin | November 29, 1999

Any theories about small nations being unable to engage international audiences are sucked out the window by the work of Dutch director Lodewijk Crijns. “Jesus is a Palestinian” is the millennial movie. Back-to-the-land movements, charismatic cults, alternative medicine, body piercing-which country isn’t confronting such universal concerns? And laughing at the extremes they can take? For eight years, innocent Ramses, played with deadpan wit by Kim Vankooten, has been laboring in Rajneesh-ish attire on a religious agricultural commune. When his sluttish estranged sister turns up, she persuades him to pay a visit to their dying father. The father has his own spiritual concerns. He’s obsessed with a Palestinian prophet who has set up a rooftop neon-lit church, where the Messiah is scheduled to appear on the dawn of the year 2000. Meanwhile, Ramses’ sexual awakening with his sister’s roommate is complicated by the woman’s self-destructive sexual associations. Not to mention his own piercing impediment. This brief explanatory shot posed the festival’s only potential censorship problem; the issue was deftly short-circuited by screening the film without charge. No doubt it will perplex censorship boards elsewhere, but the shot can hardly be classified as gratuitous nudity: it’s the nub of the joke. There are plenty of jokes in “Jesus is a Palestinian” and plenty of reflections on why people pursue their own extremes.

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