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9 Star Hotel (2008)

Ido Haar  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Ido Haar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, Hebrew
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Koch Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Z27H68
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,593 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "9 Star Hotel" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This unflinching documentary follows Ahmed and Muhammad, two of the many Palestinians who illegally cross the border into the Israeli city of Modi’in looking for work. Together they share food, belongings and stories, and live under the constant threat of imprisonment from soldiers and police. With raw, handheld images, this disconcerting yet touching film documents friendship, nostalgia and the uncompromising urge to survive.

DVD Extras:
Interview with director Ido Haar, Original Theatrical Trailer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly Real February 7, 2008
By Pokeymo
When I first saw this documentary I could not believe the ordeal the Palestinian men dealt with, risking their lives crossing the Israeli border to find work. But despite the raw sadness you feel watching their struggle for survival, the story ultimately is about the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity. An excellent film by Ido Haar.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the real deal February 8, 2008
When I chanced upon "9 Star" at Tribecca I was taken aback by its story. It's one of plight and struggle, filmed in what I would call 'real terms' (the use of handheld cameras to not only permit the filming, but to further the 'reality of it all' stylistically). Now, having seen it, I stop instantly with each and every news story about what's going on in the region. The breached border in Gaza, the thousands of people struggling to create a life for themselves against odds that are nearly impossible. 9 Star really opened my eyes in a way only a film can to an ordeal being faced and a reality that is not easy for anyone.

While the 'real' story is newsworthy in and of itself, 9 Star also contains a storyline about friendship and loyalty and family and 'what it takes' to survive.

Interestingly, in an entirely different way, another recent film from the region had similar imapct for me. Syrian Bride, the story of a planned-marriage-against-the odds, also carries incredible impact. Built in reverse to 9 Star (a narrative fiction approach), Syrian Bride's topline story is one of union, but its underlying message is one of struggle-against-the-odds. I cannot help but wonder why this region of the world cannot simply get it together.

In a world where most films deal with nothing other than entertainment, both 9 Star Hotel and Syrian Bride bring to light daring stories that provoke thought and enlightenment.

Cheers to KOCH Lorber for having enough bravado to release such incredible quality works to the market.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 9-star hotel documentary? December 3, 2010
As one who teaches the history of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, I recommend this film to my students. But is it entirely honest to advertise it as a 'documentary'? The film is billed as viewing Palestinians off-camera, although the men seem often to talk to the camera, as of course they would in the circumstances. They self-consciously direct their 'private' conversations to the ever-present camera. More useful might have been actual interviews with them about their plight, and less on the chit-chat, which consumes much of the overly long 78 minutes. After all, the audience wants to know their opinions, not their play-acting abilities. Oddly the film omits the all-important CONTEXT: the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
I hope Haar will do another film on the same theme, with less of the so-called dialogues.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A documentary that deserves 9 stars February 7, 2008
By Brandon
Had the pleasure of seeing this moving documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and hear the director Ido Haar answer a few questions about the making of the film after it screened. Thrilled to see that it has been released on DVD and will be exposed to a wider audience. It opened my eyes to an issue that I never knew existed - the plight of migrant Palestinian workers crossing into Israel - a situation not dissimilar to the one that exists on the U.S. and Mexican border.
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"9 Star Hotel" (2007 release from Israel; 78 min.) is a documentary about a group of young Palestine construction workers, crossing the border into Israeli illegally so as to work at various construction sites in the Israeli city of Modi'in. As the documentary opens, we follow these men as they nervously venture into Israel, afraid of running into the Border Patrol or the Israeli police. We see them crossing a busy highway (I couldn't help but think back of a similar scene many years ago when I was driving on the I-5 in San Diego). Most importantly, we get to know them as human beings. After the daily work is done, these guys are hanging out and they talk about missing their friends and family back in Palestine, discuss how to possibly make more money in Israel, and yes, even the beautiful women in Israel (comments one of them: "Did you see the Israeli Border Patrol? It was a woman." His friend asks: "Was she pretty?" His response: "They all are!", ha!). No, these are not terrorists, but simply a desperate group of men who will do whatever it takes to make some money so they can support their families. The movie does not take a political stand in favor or against these "undocumented workers", as it's called these days I think.

Couple of further thoughts: this is a rather short movie, so make sure to check out the DVD bonus materials, which include an excellent 10 min. interview with the Israeli director, Ido Haar, who brings some nice insights on why he made this documentary, and what it was like to make this movie. For one, as it turns out, Haar does not speak any Arabic, so he would only after the fact (in the editing room) learn what the Palestine men were talking about!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling documentary August 3, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting and compelling documentary I'm sure you will enjoy. Shown on the PBS documentary series P.O.V and also screened at numerous film festivals, 9 Star Hotel follows a group of Palestinian construction laborers as they attempt to make a living by crossing the border into the Israeli city of Modi'in in search of work. They spend their days building luxury apartments and at night sleep in crudely made compartments high up in the wooded hillsides. As the film moves on, we see the difficult conditions these men must endure in order to survive, particularly the threat of being arrested by the border police. We also become acquainted with two of the workers: Ahmed, a winsome collector of odds and ends some of which he sells and Muhammad, a pensive philosopher critical of the Palestinian Authority. It's easy to see that due to a shared sense of experience there is a deep feeling of camaraderie and familiarity that exists between the men as they live, work and struggle together under the harshest of conditions. Despite their struggles they're able to maintain their sense of humor and resilience, albeit with a stoic acceptance.

Some may argue that the film is one sided and doesn't delve deep enough into the social and economic aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which have created these unfortunate conditions. I however disagree, as many people have some level of knowledge about the situation. Those who don't can easily acquaint themselves with it by doing some research.

9 Star Hotel doesn't attempt to analyze socio-political issues or offer profound insights. Instead it offers an empathetic look into the human condition and the will to survive.
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