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Israel recently has been receiving clout for its international film success. In fact, “Israel has been nominated for more Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film than any other country in the Middle East.” It also has five major theatres and two international film festivals. In 2014, Israeli films sold 1.6 million tickets in Israel, the most in its history. Trends in Israeli film included: Zionist films in the ’40s and ’50s, the New Wave Movement in the ’60s or “Kayitz,” bourekas films in the ’70s (local farces and melodramas), the second wave of Kayitz in the ’80s, and in the ’90s until now, an international focus and an everchanging idea of film with politics. Historically, the first motion picture was Train Station in Jerusalem, the focal point in Israel’s early days was Eretz Yisrael, and the first full-length feature film in Hebrew was Oded the Wanderer. Also important was the creation of government assistance in film in 1978: the Fund for the Encouragement of Quality Israeli Cinema. To finish up this guide to Israeli film, let’s dig deeper into the films that constitute “quality Israeli cinema.” Many of these are amazing films easily accessible for streaming, but not an exhaustive list!

This is the Land (1935)

This film by acclaimed Baruch Agadati is an early Zionist film. It has recently been added to the Spielberg Archive.

Kazablan (1974)

This film, a bourekas,  is known as the “Israeli West Side Story.” It is about early Israeli culture and its own rival gangs.

Hagiga B’Snuker (1975)

It’s a cult comedy movie and one of the classic Bourekas films.

Late Summer Blues (1987)

This film is about a group of Israeli teenagers before they are set to enlist in the IDF. It’s gritty yet fun. Think Stand By Me, Mid90s, Dazed or Confused, or The Kings of Summer, plus Grease, set in Tel Aviv.

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Waltz with Bashir is an animated autobiographical movie of an infantry soldier struggling with PTSD after the Lebanon War.

5 Broken Cameras (2011)

5 Broken Cameras is a documentary of a first-hand account of nonviolent resistance in a West Bank village.

The Gatekeepers (2012)

This is a documentary of former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service agency, talking about the Six Day War.

Zero Motivation (2014)

This is a film about female IDF soldiers and their dull lives at a remote base. It’s a satirical look at the IDF, and it raises question of females’ roles in the military. Overall, it’s a hilarious female power film. It’s been described as GIRLS meets M.A.S.H.

Maktub (2017)

Admittedly, this is a slightly bizarre gangster comedy, but worth a watch. Two criminals after witnessing a bombing decide to help others by fulfilling people’s Western Wall wishes.

Tel Aviv on Fire (2018)

A Palestinian living in Jerusalem works on a soap opera and gets his ideas from the commander at a checkpoint he passes through everyday.

With that, thanks and shalom for now!


UGA '22. Entertainment Media Studies major with a Theatre Studies Minor and a New Media Certificate (wants to be a television writer or a producer of digital content promoting kindness). Just your average, kinda awkward, 40 year old Jewish mom in a 19 year old's body who loves coffee, bagels, television, and late nights on Amazon. Check here for random writing thoughts!
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