The Arty Semite

Israeli Films Get an International Platform Online

By Josh Tapper

  • Print
  • Share Share

On July 1, the Israel Film Center — housed at The JCC in Manhattan — launched the Israeli Film Database for public access. Conceived two years ago, the database has served primarily as a tool for Israeli film professionals to document and market their work. Now, anyone can view profiles for over 3000 Israeli films from the early 1960s to the present day.

While many of the titles will be unfamiliar even to those with an extensive knowledge of Israeli film (late 1990’s student films, anyone?), displaying the country’s cinematic history is just the point, said IFC director Isaac Zablocki, who also served as a filmmaker in the Israel Defense Forces. The Arty Semite contributor Josh Tapper spoke with Zablocki about IFC’s ambition to create a platform that will jointly serve industry types and boost Israeli cinema’s American profile.

Josh Tapper: Why create the Israeli Film Database?

Isaac Zablocki: We felt there was a need. A lot of people were trying to access Israeli films and it wasn’t always easy. We wanted to create a tool that would connect the community with the industry. There is no one platform for Israeli cinema. Many industries — Germany, for example — have programs for their films that promote them to the world. Before us, the official place to go was the Israeli consulate. But a national film resource shouldn’t be a government-run organization. The Israeli Film Database will be that international platform for Israeli films. Anybody looking for great world cinema will see this as an access point.

How will the IFC contribute to the emergence of Israeli cinema?

In the last 10 years the Israeli film industry has really developed, and especially in the last five. We’re seeing very high quality films being made. We’re seeing young filmmakers with more artistic freedom, confident in their own voices. Israel has more film schools per capita than anywhere else in the world, so there’s a lot of potential. To those familiar with [the IFC’s] work, we focus on the younger generation. In Israel, film represents the voice of the new generation. Most of the films are coming from young directors. It’s amazing to see the new voices that are exploding on the scene and making an impact internationally. I see the site as being something for the future as well as it for the past.

Why aren’t Americans familiar with Israeli films?

It’s a changing process here. Americans are less familiar than Europeans toward high quality Israeli cinema. Americans don’t follow film festivals as religiously as Europeans. One of the goals of the center is to make these films as accessible as possible, so that whatever obstacles are in the way, it will give Americans a chance to see films — and portrayals of life in Israel — they haven’t seen.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Israeli Film, Israel Film Center, JCC Manhattan

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.