Sheldon Kirshner

Arugam Bay: An Israeli movie set In Sri Lanka

Marco Carmel’s bitter-sweet movie, Arugam Bay, is set in an idyllic corner of Sri Lanka to which surfers gravitate. It’s where three Israelis go on vacation to chill out and reminisce about an old friend who has passed.

It will be screened on June 1 at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, which runs from May 30 until June 9.

The film is divided into two segments: pre-and post-Yuval. In the first part, Yuval and his girlfriend, Kim (Joy Rieger), enjoy an outing at a beach in Haifa. He’s a strapping fellow who loves Kim dearly. But he’s robbed of the opportunity to grow old with her.

During an Israeli army commando raid in Beirut, Yuval is killed. He dies in the arms of his best friend, Michael (Maor Schweitzer), who’s traumatized by his death.

Six months later, Michael and his friend, Gal, (Yadin Gelman) invite Kim to join them on a surfing vacation in Sri Lanka. During the course of their trip, a lot of water flows under the bridge, so to speak.

Michael and Kim sit on a beach and talks about Yuval. He secretly loves her, but seems afraid of courting her, as if a romantic relationship would be a betrayal of his friendship with Yuval.

Michael meets an army vet from Iran, Israel’s deadliest enemy, but they get on well.

Tensions flare between Michael and Gal, who do not appear to be compatible.

Gal is thinking of applying to an army officers course, but his father advises him to stay clear of it.

Michael, Gal and Kim think their luggage has been stolen by a local bus driver, but the truth is more complicated. Cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings.

Renting a motor scooter, Michael explores the lush countryside.

He’s still shaken by his participation in that commando raid that claimed Yuval’s life. When firecrackers light up the dark sky, he momentarily mistakes them for hostile Arab rockets.

Michael runs afoul of the law when he gets into a needless fight with another Israeli and is summarily arrested.

Arugam Bay unfolds languidly, much like a day on a sandy beach in rural Sri Lanka. It is ably directed by Carmel, who squeezes out fine performances from his Israeli and Sri Lankan cast.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,