"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.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Dover Kosashvili's new film, Infiltration, based on the novel by Yehoshua Kenaz, is about the hardships of the 1950s, the battle for status between different groups of Jews, and the individual's need to "infiltrate" and become somebody.
The story takes place at a boot camp training base in Israel of the 1950s where we meet a platoon of young men who are in non-combatant basic training. The young men, with different physical and emotional limitations, are recruits from diverse groups in Israeli society. There are Ashkenazim and Sephardim, religious and secular, those from kibbutzim and those from the cities, Holocaust survivors and those born in Israel. The army tries to be a melting pot but these young men on the margins of society, rather than being trained as a team, are battling against each other for status.
The story is about the shame of not having a high enough profile to do combat service and about the terrible discipline and initiation imposed on raw recruits.
The film has a lot of humor and charm, some romance, some pathos, and a fair amount of cruelty inflicted on the soldiers by the young officers. In fact, humiliation seems to be a basic element in their training. Ironically, the soldier who shows the most dedication and motivation and wants desperately to become a combat soldier is humiliated the most.
There have been many military films produced in Israel over the years, and even a few dealing with the cruelty of basic training. This film is different from the others however because here the soldiers-in-training will never become "real" soldiers and the frustrations that flow from that fact (both for the young officers and the recruits) can be devastating.
Kosashvili's previous film, Late Marriage (2001), about the difficulty of rebelling within the traditional family framework, was tremendously successful both locally and internationally. His current film, Infiltration, is available from Transfax Film Productions.