When he didn’t answer my post-date email for 24 hours, I began to worry. I sent a calm message offering to meet up later in the day for another try, and when I got a positive reply back a few hours later, I knew I needed to pull out all the stops, so I suggested that we attend the Kino Kaberet Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, where a few of my friends were screening entries.
KINO is a short film movement where creators collaborate on projects with next to no budget. The emphasis is on ideas, and the results range from amateurish to powerful. Tel Aviv’s Kino cell is full of vibrant and creative people, some of whom I knew already through my writing and stand-up performances. Every year, the Tel Aviv group takes part in the Kaberet, where an international team of filmmakers descends upon the city to make films together within a span of a few days. My friend Oren Rehany had sent out an invitation to come out to the Cinemateque to view his film, Revenge. I thought this would be perfect. Nothing says sexy like a pretentious film festival, right?
We agreed to meet at 7:15 p.m., a few minutes before Oren’s stated screening time of 7:30 p.m. Of course, I hadn’t counted on Israelis knowing the Israeli mindset. The actual screening time was 8:30 p.m. We went off to eat at Philippe Pizza, which cared nothing for kashrut or Passover, and whose jazz-loving wait staff apparently cared nothing for tips… as we waited for more than 30 minutes to get our order taken and delivered. I struggled to eat a slice and a half, while my date ate five slices and took the rest to go. My stomach was cramping just from watching. I was still going to leave a 20 percent tip, but it took another 15 minutes to get the bill. My date said they should get nothing. I settled for 10 percent.
At the theater, we waited for the movies to start. After a lengthy introduction in Hebrew, followed by a brief summary of the KINO aesthetic in English, the first movie was announced at 9 p.m. The host called for Lior to say a few words about his film. Lior did not answer. It turns out Lior was running late, so his movie was pushed forward. This became a running theme for the night. We received frequent updates about Lior’s search for parking, and worried about his sense of direction as he searched for the theater. Lior, your quest was nearly as entertaining for me as your movie.
The screening included not only Oren’s thought-provoking piece on violence against women, but also a funny short by fellow comedian Ori Halevy, which weighed the importance of love against toilet paper. Charmin beats charming every time. Afterwards, the host told everyone to get on a bus going to a super-secret location. My date looked at me. “We’re going,” he said.
Now, I am the first to admit that I can be impulsive. But I had a nagging suspicion that there may have been a few provisos, a couple of quid-pro-quos, as to who was invited on this trip. But what the heck, what did I have to lose? We got onto the bus and sat all the way in the back. Only a few people took note of our presence, a delightful girl from Austria, and a Scandinavian of questionable provenance who was carrying a unicorn bag and complaining of only sleeping four hours in the last day and a half. They both agreed not to rat us out, and off we went.
Forty-five minutes later, we got off the bus at Atlit beach. The first alarm bell rang when the organizer reminded everyone to get their sleeping bags. My date and I looked at each other. We shrugged. In for 10 agorot, in for a shekel. Once the campsite was ready, we drank beer (this one is from my hometown, said the Austrian girl) and ate baked potatoes and corn hot from the fire, everyone studiously ignoring that we were complete strangers.
At 2 a.m., the organizer announced an extra surprise. She asked a couple to come forward, and had four men bring forth a chuppah. A friend of the couple told their story. They had met on a previous cycle of Kino, and had fallen in love. Now, they wanted to marry in front of their adopted family. After hearing the bride and groom recite their heartfelt vows, I looked at my date. How could this possibly go wrong?! I told him I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this. He told me I should stop being so self-referential and live in the moment more.
At 5:30 a.m., as the revelers were snuggling into their blankets and sleeping bags, my date said it was time to go home. We walked 15 minutes to the bus which took us to the train station. During the entire trip, I kept saying that this was the most romantic date I’d ever had. As we got off the bus and walked into the station, my date turned to me and said, “I don’t think we should go out anymore. I can’t take all of this adventure.” And with that, we walked into the station.