Borrowed Identity: Israeli Ethan Riklis Intriguing Coming of Age Tale

It’s about time for a complete retrospective of the rich and diverse work of Ethan Riklis, arguably Israel’s most accomplished filmmaker.










Riklis’ new movie, A Borrowed Identity, is an intriguing coming-of-age tale that is at once very particular and very universal due, to its central thematic concern with identity formation in unusual socio-political circumstances.

Written and adapted from two autobiographical novels by Arab-Israeli author and journalist Sayed Kashua (Dancing Arabs, Let It Be Morning, Second Person Singular), the drama is set in the early 1990s, revolving around an Arab teenager who’s trying to find his place in Israeli society.


Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom), a bright Palestinian Israeli boy, gets the opportunity to attend a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem.

As he desperately tries to fit in with his Jewish schoolmates and within Israeli society, Eyad develops a friendship with another outsider, Jonathan (Michael Moshonov, Lebanon) a boy suffering from muscular dystrophy.

Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom)

Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom)

Gradually, the two boys bond and Eyad becomes part of the home Jonathan shares with his mother, Edna (Yael Abecassis).

The story gets more interesting as it goes along, when Eyad meets and falls in love with Naomi (Danielle Kitzis), a Jewish girl.  Unfortunately, he is forced to leave school when their relationship is disclosed.  In due time, he realizes the obstacles to fitting in, the need to sacrifice his true identity in order to fully gain social acceptance.

But life is not as bleak as it seems, as there are options, leading Eyad to make some fateful decisions that inevitably will change his life forever.

Young Eyad (Razi Gabareen)

Young Eyad (Razi Gabareen)








Like all classic coming of age tales, Borrowed Identity is shot through the subjective eyes of one particular boy, living in extraordinary complicated and complex circumstances, but looked upon from the critical and more detached perspective of an adult.