Everyone comes to the United States believing this
is the Holy Land, the land of hopes and dreams. Little do they realize
that with freedom comes hard work and a sacrifice of some kind.
The same can be said for any country that welcomes immigrants, illegal
or not. In James' Journey to Jerusalem, a young African seeks Jerusalem
as his paradise, but finds his quest interrupted when money and
power come to play and his dreams sidetracked. It's an enjoyable
film filled with a universal story and a commanding performance
by its lead actor Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe.
James (Shibe), is on a mission. He wants more freedom, more money,
and more opportunities to explore life. Essentially, he seeks happiness
and solace. He believes Jerusalem will offer that. Head strong but
na´ve, he lands in Israel and is immediately picked up by the local
cops who believe he's there to work illegally. Rather than face
deportation, he allows himself to be bailed by Shimi (Daw), a │businessman▓.
Little does he know that Shimi basically using him to make a profit
cleaning houses as he does with other illegals. James figures that
with time, he will make enough to pay back his bail money and walk
away, but finds that it's easy.
One of James' jobs is to take care of house of Shimi's father,
who's reluctant to sell it and make a profit for Shimi to split
with his wife. When the old man encourages James to make his money
and run his business, James takes the advice serious. Before you
know it, James is running a small empire exploiting his fellow countrymen
for cash and power, while forgetting his mission to get to the promise
land. Will he ever reach his quest or will capitalism push him further
Director Ra' anan Alexandrowicz creates a situation where greed
and power are universal themes but also where dreams are dash when
distracted. Capitalism is perceived as the root of evil but it also
can be looked at from the opposite way when putting things in perspective.
Shibe is amazingly charismatic in his portrayal of a na´ve man who
grows into a person he didn't set out to be, but finds himself with
new a goal and realistic view life when his eyes are open finally
to what life outside home is really like.
JAMES' JOUREY TO JERUSALEM is playing at the Film Forum, Houston Street,
west of Sixth Avenue, New York