"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.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Student Films from Ma'aleh

Just last week, I had the opportunity of attending the screening of this year's graduation films from the Ma'aleh Film School.    I love viewing and analyzing student films because they provide us with a window into the subjects that are of concern to the younger generation.  If you are doing film programming, take note of this year's group of six films which are of particularly high quality and definitely worthwhile!  There are three short dramas, one video-art and two documentaries.

Three Short Dramas

short drama, 28 min., Dir: Alon Rabinovich

Valdimir is the lighting technician at the Jerusalem Theater, but he dreams of much more -- he wants to be an actor and play Shylock on the stage.  This is an interesting and authentic drama about Jewish identity, about who is a Jew, and about who has a monopoly on being Jewish. 

Riding his bike to work one day, Vladimir meets an old friend from Russia who has become haredi and is helping people put on tefillin on Ben Yehuda St.  His friend puts the tefillin on him and Vladimir is quite moved by the experience.  But he finds it a challenge to discuss with his wife the changes that he is feeling.   The story develops and it is interesting to see how the couple eventually finds their way.

The Little Dictator
short drama, 29 min., Dir: Nurit Cohn

Yossi is a nerdy professor whose area of specialization is totalitarian leadership.  Unappreciated by his students, Yossi goes home at the end of the day to a domineering wife and three children.  At a family weekend where the extended family is celebrating Grandma's 90th birthday, he finds himself in a surreal situation, but is able to vindicate himself.  A tour-de-force in acting and directing. 

The French Revolution
short drama, 21 min., Dir: Hai Afik

A noisy street disturbance bursts into the home of a young couple as two hooligans barge in and destroy their well-being.  A very hard-hitting film about cruelty, humiliation and self-respect.


Wall, Crevice, Tear 
video-art, 11 min., no language, Dir.: Tehila Ra'anan

A poetic visit to the Kotel (Western Wall).  This is a film of beauty and yearning,  filmed during different seasons of the year, expressing  feelings about the meaning of the Kotel for both the pious and the secular. 

About Disabilities - Two documentaries

Hannah is Beautiful
doc., 22 min., Dir.: Shira Meisher

Hannah is a 37-year-old woman with mental challenges, who lives in an apartment sponsored by the non-profit organization, Shekel.  This is a touching look at a woman who desperately wishes she could find love.  She works full-time in a government cafeteria and is terribly disappointed when she is refused a raise.  She takes great care with what she wears, her make-up, how she looks.  On the one hand, we've seen films like this before.  On the other, it is a poignant portrait of a wonderful woman who believes that she has to make the best of what life has given her.  

Mazal Means Luck
doc., 29 min., Dir: Mazal Ben-Yishai

The filmmaker's parents are mentally challenged and the filmmaker was brought up in one household by both her parents and grandparents.  In fact, the film beautifully integrates old family movies in order to tell the story of this remarkable family.  Now that her grandparents are getting older, they are grappling with where her parents will go to live when the grandparents are gone.  Is it the young woman's responsibility to live with her parents, sacrificing her life to them in order to take care of them? 

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