At this year’s Academy Awards, Israel’s blossoming film industry has two nominations for the Best Documentary Award. In this highly competitive category, Israel is dominating with “The Gatekeepers,” following former chiefs of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service operators, who give a tell-all expose of some of the most notorious operations in the West Bank and Gaza. “5 Broken Cameras,” released in the U.S. earlier this year by Kino-Lorber, follows a Palestinian man documenting the peaceful resistance of his Arab village in the West Bank (protesting illegal expansions of territories and land confiscation), and the not so peaceful reactions of the Israeli military.
Both films stylistically could not be more different. “The Gatekeepers” is made with ground breaking animated effects, while “5 Broken Cameras” is more of a gritty found-footage film, edited together to create a story from the guerilla images. But both films bring a critical perspective of Israel with hope to create change in the stalemate peace process and, more importantly, to change Israeli society’s unethical elements from within.
Isaac Zablocki is the director of film programs at The JCC in Manhattan.
“Five Hours From Paris” is an Israeli film, inspired by classic French New Wave cinema, that tells the story of a taxi driver with a fear of flying and a Russian immigrant who is planning to move to Toronto. When “Five Hours From Paris” screened on November 2 at The JCC in Manhattan, the sold out audiance asked director Leonid Prudovsky, “why does this film not have an American distributor?” Prudovsky explained that the reason might be because the film is not political. But in a war-stricken region, it is refreshing to have an occasional glimpse of daily life and true humanity. I took the opportunity to talk to Prudovsky about his love of French movies, the reaction to “Five Hours From Paris” in Israel, and the film’s inadvertent politicization in the wake of last June’s flotilla incident. “Five Hours From Paris” next screens on December 9 at the Washington Jewish Film Festival.
Watch an interview with Leonid Prudovsky: