When Yakov Cohen’s daughter is expelled from school for ethnic reasons, he decides to fight back. It’s 1983 and Yakov, a printer in Jerusalem, is just a regular guy. He has no knowledge, no money, no connections and no political experience. But he does have the will and the passion to take action, and a belief that he and and other Sephardic Jews should be able to hold their heads up high. Yakov brings two friends along and together they start the first ethnic political group in Jerusalem, with an operation characteristic of the people they represent: not the suit-wearing types, but rather the people working their way up from the bottom. Their operation is informal, full of love for their fellow man, animated by a great sense of humor and a whole lot of rage.
They didn’t know how to play the political game, so they made it all up as they went along - setting off on one of the oddest, most surprising and moving election campaigns Israel has ever known. Today, the Sfarad’s Guardians political party – known as “Shas” – is an empire, an institution and a brand influencing an entire society. Yakov Cohen still works at his printing house at the Bukharan Quarter in the heart of Jerusalem city.
The Unorthodox is the first feature film directed by Eliran Malka, best known as the creator of the hit Israeli TV series Shababnikim. Inspired by the unique formation story of Israel's Shas political party, which created a movement for Israel's disenfranchised Sephardic community, the film is a comic drama about events that reshaped Israeli society and continue to resonate today. The Unorthodox also marks a return to the screen for lead actor Shuli Rand, who endeared himself to audiences in films such as Ushipizin by Gidi Dar, Marco Polo: The Missing Chapter by Rafi Bukai, and Life According to Agfa by Assi Dayan. In The Unorthodox Shuli Rand plays the lead role of Ya’akov Cohen, a man who, in wanting a small change, transformed an entire country.