Trends and history of israeli cinema
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Trends and History of Israeli Cinema Steven Stromberg Neal Ballard The Yishuv Period (Pre-Statehood) Late 19 th Century – 1948 Edison and the Lumiere brothers (as well as other outside filmmakers) came to Palestine to shoot “exotic” footage. Films were imported from Europe and America

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Trends and History of Israeli Cinema

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Trends and History of Israeli Cinema

Steven Stromberg

Neal Ballard


The Yishuv Period (Pre-Statehood)

  • Late 19th Century – 1948

  • Edison and the Lumiere brothers (as well as other outside filmmakers) came to Palestine to shoot “exotic” footage.

  • Films were imported from Europe and America

  • The beginnings of the Israeli film industry: travelogues, documentaries and eventually narrative films.

  • Most productions were influenced and supported by Zionist movement.

  • Archetypal character of the Sabra (native-born Israeli) is introduced.

  • Films contributed to renewal of Hebrew as a secular language.


Important Filmmakers and Films of the Yishuv period.

  • Nathan Axelrod (1905 – 1987)

    • Oded the Wanderer (1933)

    • Over the Ruins (1938)

  • Baruch Agadati (1895 – 1976)

    • This Is the Land (1935)

    • AGA Film Co. Oded the Wanderer

  • Important Films

    • Oded the Wanderer (1933)

    • Sabra (d. Aleksander Ford) (1933)

      Sabra


Post 1948: Heroic-Nationalist Genre

  • Practically no narrative films were made between 1933 and the creation of the State of Israel

  • Films reflected issues in Israeli society:

    • Large numbers of new immigrants

    • Zionism

    • Heroes of the War of Independence

    • Memories of the Holocaust

    • Six Day War

  • Serious limitations on production

  • Films produced primarily for audiences abroad

  • Focused primarily on the Arab / Israeli conflict

    • Arab roles were either very stereotypically anonymous or negatively portrayed

  • Post 1967 War:

    • Americanization of Israeli culture and films

    • More epic films / larger budgets reflecting post war economic prosperity


Important Filmmakers and Films of Heroic – Nationalist genre

  • Many producers and directors were recent immigrants to Israel.

  • Larry Frisch

    • Tel Aviv Taxi (1954)

    • Pillar of Fire (1959)

  • Thorold Dickinson

    • The Red Background (1953)

    • Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1955) Pillar of Fire

  • Nuri Habib

    • Without a Homeland (1952)

      • (First color film in Israel)

    • Rachel (1958)

  • Important Films

    • Rebels Against the Light (1964)

    • Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1955) Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer


“Bourekas” / Escapism

  • Mostly 70s and 80s

  • Deals with ethnic stereotypes (interplay between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews)

  • Filmmakers wanted to address the needs of the Sephardi Jews because they were becoming the majority

  • Low budget ethnic comedies, heavily emotional melodramas, ethnic nostalgia, teen sex comedies, and light entertainment

  • Retreat from old Zionist values

  • Severe criticism because of little cinematic or artistic sophistication


Important filmmakers and films of “Bourekas” / Escapist Cinema

  • George Ovadiah

    • Harbour of Love (1967)

    • Arianna (1971)

  • Ze’ev Revach

    • Only Today (1976)

    • Batito (1987) Sallah

  • Important Films

    • Sallah (1964)

      • (d. Ephraim Kishom)

  • Light Out of Nowhere (1973)

    • (d. Nissim Dayan)

  • House on Chelouche Street (1973)

    • (d. Mose Mizrachi) Light Out of Nowhere


  • Personal & Allegorical Cinema

    • Counter-response to “Boureka/Escapist” and National-Heroic Genres of film

    • Younger generation of Israeli filmmakers (1960s – 1970s)

      • “Kayitz” movement

      • Influenced by French New Wave; many studied in Paris

    • Individual Issues:

      • Disillusionment / “ideology-of-having-no-ideology”

      • Marginality of the protagonist.

      • Criticism of Society

    • Issues in Israeli Society:

      • Individual vs. National Identity; the personal/political and the private/historical are linked together.

        • What defines the state of Israel (shifting borders)? / Who is a Jew (many diasporas)?

      • Post-Holocaust Jewish survival

      • Individual characters can be representative of the state.


    Important Filmmakers and Films in Personal & Allegorical Cinema

    • Uri Zohar

      • Hole in the Moon (1965)

      • Three Days and a Child (1967)

    • Dan Wolman (1941- ) Hole in the Moon

      • The Dreamer (1970)

      • My Michael (1975)

        My Michael


    Return of the Repressed: The Palestinian Wave

    • Student films began focusing on Israeli/Arab conflict in new ways.

    • Films began to include Palestinian characters (mostly in minor roles).

    • Films operate w/in a general framework and assumption of Zionism and Arab/Israeli conflict as a given.

    • Wider social and cultural perspectives; dependant on equality between “Oriental” Jews, European Jews and Palestinian Arabs


    Important Films and Filmmakers in the Palestinian Wave of Cinema

    • Uri Barabash

      • Beyond the Walls (1985)

    • Nissim Dayan

      • A Very Narrow Bridge (1985) Beyond the Walls

    • Shimon Dotan

      • The Smile of the Lamb (1986)

      • Avanti-Popolo (1986)

        A Very Narrow Bridge


    Observations

    • Israeli Film History and Genres somewhat parallel American/Hollywood Films

      • National-Heroic = John Wayne, John Ford

      • Bourekas/Escapist = Howard Hawkes, Billy Wilder

      • Personal/Allegorical = Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Copolla, etc.


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