Capsule Review: White Eye

Tomer Shushan’s White Eye has screened at over 70 film festivals, including 23 Oscar-qualifying. This Live-Action short has won numerous accolades including the Oscar-qualifying Best Narrative Short Award at SXSW Film Festival. White Eye was nominated for a 2020 Ophir Award.

Written by Anna Harrison

85/100

Tomer Shushan’s film White Eye is a feast for, well, the eyes (and the ears with its excellent sound design). Shot all in one take, White Eye tracks Omer (Daniel Gad) as he attempts to retrieve his bike, which he believes has been stolen by Yunes (Dawit Tekelaeb), an Eritrean immigrant to Israel. What follows is a simple story told with deftness and precision and lingers long after the credits roll.

White Eye’s long take ensures that we follow Omer every step of the way as this unfolds in real time: we watch him call the police, walk across the street to ask for help, uncover a group of migrants hiding from the police in a freezer. We don’t get a rest as the tension builds about what Omer will do, but instead are forced to watch as the film builds to its inevitable but no less affecting conclusion. The shot takes us through the dark streets of Tel Aviv, where people lounge about and the same prostitute wanders in the background looking for customers, to a bright, sterile meatpacking facility, its harsh lights contrasted with the outside. Shushan makes sure our eyes would never want to leave the screen, even though the story flags in places.

The premise is simple and the scope small, which in many ways makes White Eye more effective than an overblown feature might be. It’s simply about people navigating a world that changes vastly depending on what social strata you belong in. While the technical prowess might overshadow the script itself at times, White Eye remains a powerful story about the precarious situation of immigrants where countries only pretend to accept them with welcome arms, but in reality have a knife behind their back. 

You can also read Anna’s Interview with the Tomer Shushan the Director of White Eye or you can follow more of Anna’s work on Letterboxd and her website

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