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  1. Trends and History of Israeli Cinema Steven Stromberg Neal Ballard

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. “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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.