Movie Review: Night Shift – The story of an Israeli policeman

By Gideon

If you are looking for a movie about good people, about people who do above and beyond for their community, this movie is for you. It will lift your spirit, knowing that there are good policemen out there, working hard for their community, not looking for recognition, just wanting to help others.

When interviewed, the movie director Itamar Chen, said that he unintentionally stumbled into this story when he took a wrong turn and found himself in an unfamiliar neighborhood, very different from the modern neighborhoods he was used to. The neighborhood looked as if it was stuck in time. As he walked through the neighborhood he noticed a policeman reading a letter to another person, translating it from Hebrew to Ethiopian. It caught his attention, so he asked the policeman to allow him to escort him on his job. He expected car chases as he had seen in movies. What he experienced was something completely different.   

Rafi Melles is an Israeli, Ethiopian born, beat cop with a special assignment: He is the father, the mother, the brother, and the friend of the people in Kiryat Moshe, the neighborhood that he is responsible for.

When Rafi joined the Israeli police he thought that he’ll be spending most of his time chasing criminals, but what he is doing most of the time, is helping people adjusting to a country that is so different from the country in which they were born. He is more of a social worker then a policemen, spending his time listening to people, teaching them about the Israeli law, repairing their TVs, acting as a marriage counselor, and calling contractors for repairs on behalf of people in the neighborhood. Rafi works the night shift between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Kiryat Moshe, a neighborhood which is undoubtedly the most homogeneous in Israel. Every decade there has been a population turnover: Holocaust survivors, followed immigrants from Arab countries, followed by Russians, and for the past 20 years Ethiopians. The neighborhood contains the largest population of Ethiopians in the country. The story of the neighborhood is told during the night shift. Rafi  is the only person in charge of the neighborhood, but unlike most cops whose task is to maintain law and order, Rafi’s work revolves around helping the residents of Kiryat Moshe adapt to life in Israel.

Rafi was born in  Ethiopia. He immigrated to Israel when he was fifteen years old. He does not remember his life in Ethiopia.  As a teenager  (a talented long distance runner), and as a soldier, he did not feel discriminated against. He felt welcomed in his new country. However, in his job, through his interaction with people in the neighborhood, he is exposed to the discrimination that many of them suffer. He is very proud of his neighborhood and defends its good reputation. It is personal for him.

Night Shift is a documentary movie. It is about 48 minutes long. Most of the movie is in Ethiopian with English subtitles.

The movie is available for streaming on Amazon for $2.99 (free for Amazon Prime members) or on YouTube for $1.99 

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