"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.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Story of a Family and a Landmark Photography Studio

Photo Farag (pronounced faraj), directed by Kobi Farag, is a fascinating documentary story about a family from Baghdad, who emigrated to Israel in the 1950s, and eventually became successful in their family business of wedding and events photography.  Their business name became Farag, named for the oldest brother, Farag Perry -- a man with a dream to bring color photography to Israel, who becomes an iconic photography studio pioneer in Tel Aviv. Farag was one of 10 brothers and sisters, who were the children of a poor immigrant family from Baghdad, who lived for 8 years in a transit camp in Petah Tikva.  

Farag was a charmer and a character, somewhat of a braggart and an exhibitionist.  While these qualities helped him become a successful businessman they did not endear him to his family.  As the oldest sibling, he brought all of his brothers into the business, which he thought was a great idea for both the business and the extended family. For a number of years, they all worked together in what became a thriving and glorious enterprise on Dizengoff St. at the corner of Arlozoroff, a landmark shop in the heart of Tel Aviv.  But when his brothers began to have some of their own ideas of how to run the business, this led to a tragic split in the family, which lasted decades.

The filmmaker, himself a nephew of Farag, uses photos and family films from the photography studio collection to bring to life a rags-to-riches success story of a family that did very well. At the same time, he tries to engage some of the family members in an attempt at family reconciliation. 

While the film was captivating, I was disappointed that it gave very little context about the amazing story of the mass immigration of Iraqi Jewry to Israel in the early 1950's. Nor did it give any background on the life of the family in Iraq, before they came to Israel. This would have made for a much richer and compelling film, rather than one that deals mainly with a family torn apart.

Photo Farag (documentary, 77 minutes) is available from Inosan Productions.  mosh@inosan.co.il

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