‘Beggars’ Can Be Choosers

The scene and the babel of voices was half Tel Aviv and half Hollywood at the Writers Guild Theater last Sunday for the world premiere of “The King of Beggars.”

One notable aspect was that “King” is not only a new Israeli film, but the first to open not in its homeland but in Los Angeles, which is also known for producing occasional movies.

There were some other firsts, as Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch and Public Affairs Consul Gilad Millo proudly announced. “King of Beggars” has the added distinction of being the first Israeli film post-produced in Hollywood and the first world premiere to be hosted by the local Israeli consulate.

Based on the character of Fishke der Krumer (Fishke the Lame) created by the great Hebrew and Yiddish writer Mendele Mocher Sforim, the film follows the adventures of Fishke from humble bathhouse attendant in a 16th century Russian shtetl to leader of a fighting brigade of Jewish outcasts.

Fishke is a reluctant warrior who would rather study Torah than fight. But goaded by Polish and Cossack pogroms, he organizes his ragged band into a fierce fighting force.

There are some fine set scenes of battles, a la “Braveheart,” with Fishke wielding the tree branches used to whip bathhouse customers like a sword and spear.

Attending the premiere were rugged, long-haired actor Shahar Sorek, who triples as star, co-producer and fight choreographer, and director-writer Uri Paster. Co-executive producer is Jerry’s Deli owner Ike Starkman.

Joining the hundreds of guests at the cookie-laden refreshment tables after the show was Israeli American actor Oded Fehr, soon to star as a Muslim terrorist leader in the Showtime TV series, “Sleeper Cell.”

For additional information about the film, visit www.kingofbeggars.com.