"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, May 15, 2017

Michal Bat-Adam

Michal Bat-Adam is a well-known Israeli film director and actress.  During the early part of her career, she was an actress on stage, but moved over to film when she received a major role in 1972 with I Love You Rosa, directed by Moshe Mizrahi (later to become her life partner).  Following the success of this film, Bat-Adam appeared in a number of Mizrahi’s films including The House on Chelouche St., Daughters Daughters, and his American Academy award-winning French film Madame Rosa (La vie devant soi).

The first Israeli-born woman to direct a feature film, Bat-Adam began her directing and script-writing career with the acclaimed French-Israeli co-production Moments, which tells the story of a chance encounter between two women.  Since that time, Bat-Adam has written and directed additional features: two are literary adaptations (The Lover and A Thousand and One Wives) and the others are semi-autobiographical in nature (A Thin Line, Boy Meets Girl, Aya: An Imagined Autobiography, The Deserter’s Wife, Love at Second Sight, Life is Life, and Maya).

Bat-Adam’s films portray complex family relationships, providing tremendous sensitivity and painting portraits of women who expose their inner selves.  In relying heavily on the interweaving of elements of past and present, she has created a uniquely Israeli genre that mixes intimate emotions and passions with historical context.  All of her films deal with complex relationships, unique friends, loving portrayals of the elderly, and passionate loves of women. 

In her film, Hope I’m in the Frame, documentary filmmaker Netalie Braun has created a nostalgic look at the works of Michal Bat-Adam.  The film offers a wonderful tribute to a pioneering filmmaker, a woman who broke through into filmmaking before other women in Israel were doing it.  In addition to offering film clips from her many feature films, the film also included spiteful critiques from the Israeli critics who called her films, among other things, “feminine” and “small” and they said her films showed too many boobs! I suppose it’s okay if a male filmmaker includes nudity in his film, but God forbid that a woman filmmaker would make a similar artistic decision!

Hope I’m in the Frame also offers a personal look at both Bat-Adam and Mizrahi – two icons of local and international filmmaking.  It’s nice to see Bat-Adam as a grandmother and to see their love for each other, and how she is filming his memories.  The film (58 minutes) is available from Go2Films.  See the review on this website of Netalie Braun’s previous documentary, The Hangman. This film is not as powerful or complex as the previous one, but it offers a loving portrait of the life and work of an impressive woman filmmaker. 

At the premiere screening at DOCAVIV this past weekend, Braun stated that her motivation for making this film stemmed directedly from “my love of Michal’s films.”  And Bat-Adam gave thanks to Netalie, not only for the making of this film, but also for – “when I was on the fringe of the Israeli film industry, she gave me credit and invited my films to a women’s festival in Rehovot that she curated.”

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