"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, April 15, 2015

Yom HaShoah

Tonight, Yom HaShoah is commemorated in Israel.  I want to review here some of the most important films, made in Israel, which honor the memory of those who perished during that time.

The large masses of immigrants who arrived in Israel from Europe during the years following the Second World War altered the earlier image of the pioneering "new Jew”  which had been so prevalent in Israeli society and in Israeli film.  These Holocaust survivors, who were once stigmatized and learned to be silent about their wartime experiences and traumas, eventually began to share their memories.  The first groundbreaking film which altered our view of the Holocaust survivor was the award-winning Summer of Aviya (Eli Cohen, 1986, fiction) and its sequel, Under the Domim Tree. The stories of survivors are now honored and heard in numerous films.   

Young Israelis, perhaps suffering from over-exposure to Holocaust stories and commemorative events, or from what some have called “Holocaust fatigue”, have learned to grapple with the importance of memory – one through the use of rock music (Due to that War, Orna Ben Dor, 1986, about singer, Yehuda Poliker and his lyricist, Yaakov Gilad, both children of survivors), others through the use of black humor (Babcha, Micky Zilbershtein,1998), and another through a chance encounter with a survivor at Dachau (Martin, Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, 1999). Holocaust consciousness has permeated every aspect of contemporary Israeli culture – film, literature, politics, music and television, and Israelis continue to live in an ongoing shadow of the Shoah.   

Often, the Arab enemy has been compared to the Nazis – out to wipe all Israelis and Jews from the face of the earth (Hill 24 Doesn't Answer, Thorold Dickinson, 1954).  More recently, however, some Israelis are tired of seeing Nazis in all of their enemies, and they are standing up and saying: I'm finished with fighting the Nazis; let's get on with life as normal (in Eitan Fox and Gal Uchovsky's  enormously successful, Walk on Water,  2003). 

In addition, I want to draw attention to the following documentary films which offer some of the most important expressions of memory -- you can find reviews of all of these on this blog --
  • Bureau 06 by Yoav Halevy
  • The Flat by Arnon Goldfinger
  • Six Million and One by David Fisher
  • A Film Unfinished by Yael Hersonski
  • The Green Dumpster Mystery by Tel Haim Yoffie
  • The Hangman by Netalie Braun 

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