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Israel, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Tomer Heymann

Welcome Back Kotter meets La Haine in this fascinating fly-on-the-wall account of youth worker Tomer Heymann (also the filmmaker) and the gang (Hasrutim, in Hebrew), a teenage youth group from a housing estate in the town of Azur, near Tel Aviv. Shot over two years by Heymann, the film documents the relationship between the mild-mannered Tomer and a gang of tough, nihilistic estate-boys, who steal and trash his motorbike after their first meeting.

Tomer and the boys work on developing a play based on their own experiences, and through this he introduces them to various artist-friends, hoping to broaden their horizons. Together they candidly discuss sex, violence, alienation and other issues in what seems like a carefully constructed piece of group therapy. But this is thrown into turmoil when the homophobic teens learn that Tomer is gay. While the gang is forced to re-evaluate their ideas about him in light of their discovery, Tomer has cause to examine his own roie as youth worker and filmmaker of this film. An honest and sincere document of teenage life told with great warmth, humour and immediacy.

Tomer Heymann comes to filmmaking after cinema studies at Camera Obscura School of Art in Tel Aviv, as well as volunteer work and social leader to youth facing sexual identity porblems. Prior to It Kinda Scares Me, he made two short documentaries: Big Mama (1988) and Laugh Til I Cry (2000).

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