Betulim (Maor Zagouri) Israel. Official Section

Maor Zagouri
Israel. 2022. 120 min

A coming-of-age story of a boy whose mother dies the year he discovers his own sexuality. A story of guilt and regret that a sensitive teenager carries through a journey to lose his virginity.
Set against the hypnotic desert landscapes, he is swept up in an erotic discovery and must bid goodbye to his childhood. An intimate journey, saturated with fear and lust, of one boy’s path to manhood.


Maor Zagouri is an acclaimed and well-known Theater, TV & Cinema director. He wrote and directed 15 plays for “HABIMA” the national theater of Israel and won best director of the year 3 times & best playwriter 2 times (for “Virginity”, “Oleanders”, “One Will Die”, “25”, “Homage”). His plays were translated & adapted to 5 languages and performed across the world. He also wrote and directed 2 musicals who became a great hit – “This Is Me” & “Gave My Life”. His adaptation to “The Notebook” by Agota Kristof and to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” are a great success and running for the last 7 years in Israeli theater. His first TV show “Zagouri Empire” about his large Moroccan provincial family won best Drama of the year and considered as the most viewed show in Israeli TV history, and won 2 academy awards. The TV show “Shabanikim” he directed won 5 academy awards, plus best director and best Drama. Maor also wrote & Directed 2 TV films – “We Are the Revolution” & “Act Accordingly”.
Maor was a leading judge for “Israel Got Talent” and today he is writing for the acclaimed “Yediot” Journal. “Virginity” is his debut film. It is a semi-autobiographic story and is based upon his first play, on which he won best playwriter. The film was nominated to 5 academy awards and won.


It all began when I was 5 and my dad got this job promotion in the southern Arava desert – the most isolated place in Israel. Our entire family moved to the middle of nowhere, where it’s burning hot during the days, and freezing cold during the nights. A small place with no kids my age – therefore I was mostly by myself through almost my entire childhood. A kind of childhood that sparked my imagination and made me who I am today, and what I do for a living. Though, as a child, being trapped in a fantasy world can be both enchanting and lonely, and when puberty hit me, I had no idea what to do with it. The lust and fears that teenage years brought along had no outlet in the desert and in times it seemed like no one on the planet could understand what I am going through. It felt like my whole body was in flames, yet I didn’t know how sex looks like. I could not figure how to lose my virginity in a place that has no people?