The Arty Semite

Haredi TV Drama Poised as Breakout Hit

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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“Shtisel,” the Israeli television drama about a Haredi family in Jerusalem, is a breakout hit not only in Israel, but now also internationally.

It was announced this week that foreign broadcast and distribution rights for the series have been acquired by Pretty Pictures in France and Axess TV in Sweden. The deal was carried out on behalf of the Israeli production by Dori Media and Go2Films.

“Shtisel” — which won 10 awards at the 2013 Israeli Television Academy Awards — is being shown this week as part of the 27th annual FIPA International Festival of Audiovisual Programs in Biarritz, France. In March, it will begin a tour of Jewish film festivals, beginning with the Washington Jewish Film Festival in early March.

The series, which portrays Haredi life in great detail, has struck a chord with viewers of all types of religious backgrounds. One secular Jewish viewer told the Forward last year that he was drawn to “Shtisel” because of the universal sensibilities it highlights despite its extremely particular setting. “The Haredim are portrayed as people with all the emotional struggles and difficulties as their secular counterparts,” he said.

The series’ high production values, including direction by film director Alon Zingman, writing by Yehonatan Indursky and Ori Elon, and cinematography by Roey Roth also draw viewers in. In addition, the show’s cast includes many well-known and accomplished actors, including Dov Glickman, Michael Aloni, Neta Riskin and Ayelet Zurer, who has been working in Hollywood in recent years.

Production of the second season of “Shtisel” is currently underway in Israel. It was announced last month that popular Palestinian Israeli journalist and author Sayed Kashua would serve as editor for the new season’s episodes.


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