From Israel and Canada, Garden is a deeply affecting film because of the loving friendship of the two homeless boys, gay male prostitutes in Tel Aviv, that the film documents, the harshness of their circumstance and the courage with which they daily face this, and the extraordinary degree of trust that filmmakers Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash drew from them, as reflected in the boys’ openness to the camera. One cannot easily shake off this brilliant film.
How did the boys come to where they are? “You’re free,” the voiceover of one explains; “No one asks you where you’re going, where you’re coming from, what you do or don’t do.” (All this turns out to be untrue.) The other’s voiceover: “I gotta pay rent.” (“I don’t get into those cars willingly. . . . I have to, to live.”) Dudu, 18, is an Arab Israeli; Nino, 17, a Palestinian, tries securing a permit that will allow him to stay in Israel—a complicated matter. Both come from abusive homes; once, Nino tried going home, but (wrongly) suspecting him of collaborating with Israelis, the Palestinian secret police interceded and shot him up, abundantly scarring him. “Your pocket is your only friend,” someone says; but Dudu and Nino share a heartrending friendship. (They are not lovers.) Dudu accompanies Nino by train to the reformatory (Nino has beaten up and robbed someone and tried selling drugs to an undercover cop); Nino encourages Dudu to stop using heroin.
At one point, a social worker in an outreach van asks Nino if he has many dreams. Nino: “Not a lot, but a lot of running away from things.”
And there are matters not specific to them with which the boys also must contend. “What happened?” Nino casually asks Dudu. “Another suicide bombing?”
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