"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Monday, November 2, 2009

The Secret of My Success

Yolki Palki, directed by Alex Gentelev (2007), is a documentary about the Russian community in Israel today -- their successes and their personal stories. The film is filled with interesting people who talk about their memories of Russia, the anti-Israel lessons, and the reasons that they left. They look back with humor on the difficulties of their aliyah and laugh at their mistakes in Hebrew. They talk about their children and the fact that they were the motivating factor in their leaving Russia and coming to Israel.

The filmmaker goes on a personal journey meeting and interviewing others who were on the plane with him when he made aliyah from Moscow to Tel Aviv in the early 1990s. He goes to Kibbutz Beit Hashita to find the man who sat in front of him on the plane. Although he was an engineer, on the kibbutz he has been taught to work in the barn, milking the cows. His wife works in the old age home of the kibbutz. Their teenage son, who remembers the stigma of being a new immigrant child growing up on the kibbutz, says he's more comfortable now in Hebrew than in Russian and he is hoping to be drafted into the airforce.

Also on their plane was Pasha -- a youngster with a violin. While still in Kiev, he auditioned for the Jerusalem Academy of Music and that's how he got here. He is a talented violin player with a group called Yolki Palki which means "Oy va Voy" and in order to make ends meet, he works as a butcher.

Dina Rubina is an author whose books have been published in the millions in Russian – but not translated into Hebrew. Her daughter, who has become religious, has sadly forgotten much of her Russian and is unable to read her mother's books.

Alexei works in Tel Aviv and his family lives in Carmiel. His wife is unhappy in her work and wishes she could be an artist. But he is more successful at compromising and finding happiness. He recalls that they decided to leave the USSR when a drunken doctor messed up the birth of their first child and they lost the baby. He doesn't like it when people say "your children will do fine." What about me, he asks. My life isn't over yet! He worked hard to learn Hebrew, get a job and become Israeli. Today, he visits wounded soldiers at their homes, and his wife and family are moving closer to his work in Tel Aviv.

These are the stories of success -- they came with a work ethic, willing to do whatever it takes to make a go of it, and even though their children might have suffered as new immigrant kids, today they fit in.

Yolki Palki is in Russian, available with English or Hebrew subtitles (two versions: 2 parts -- 104 minutes or one film at 91 minutes) from Eden Productions.

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