Sheldon Kirshner
Sheldon Kirshner

Greener Pastures — An Israeli Comedy

The recreational use of cannabis is currently illegal in Israel, but medical marijuana is perfectly legal. Working within these parameters, Assaf Abiri and Mattan Guggenheim present Greener Pastures, a feature-length Hebrew-language movie that deals comedically with this contentious issue.

Scheduled to be screened online by the Toronto Jewish Film Foundation from November 18-21, it stars Shlomo Ben-Aba as Dov Aharon, a retired postal worker and widower who tries to win back possession of his house by selling medical cannabis for recreational use on the free market.

A cranky senior who misses his wife, Dov has grown weary of the luxurious gated community in which he has lived for only a week. He wants to return to his rustic old cottage, but can’t afford it.

His grandson, Gidi, urges him to stay put, but Gidi’s girlfriend, Dana (Joy Rieger), a lawyer, empathizes with his desire to go back home to his roots.

The plot takes a twist when Dov, an old school straight arrow, is introduced to a pothead of his age named Yehuda (Doval’e Glickman). Unbeknownst to Dov, Yehuda serves him a cookie laced with marijuana.

When he discovers he has been tricked, he rants and raves. But once he calms down, he realizes there is easy money to be made in the sale of medical cannabis to the general public.

With Dana’s assistance, Dov sets up a distribution ring. But soon enough, a police detective is on to him. In the meantime, Dov forms a romantic liaison with his physician, Ruthie, a single woman who understands his needs.

With the cops hot on his trail, Dana urges Dov to fold up his operation, but Dov resists and considers selling his supply of cannabis to a shady distributor who may be connected to the underworld. It’s a potentially risky move that could land Dov in prison, but upon consideration, he pulls back from the brink.

The film, shot through with black humor and bolstered by a fine cast, is reasonably entertaining. It certainly highlights an issue which has yet to be fully resolved in Israel.

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