2013: A Year of Growth For Israeli Cinema
Although this year, Israel will not have a film competing for an Oscar, there is no doubt that Bethlehem, Israel's submission to the Academy will be seen by American audiences. 2013 brought Israeli films into the forefront of acclaimed international cinema through glowing reviews, awards, and month-long runs at art house cinemas.
Over the past year Israeli filmmakers continued to produce top films on familiar topics - the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (Five Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers), Army life (Room 514, Rock the Casbah), Tel Aviv's LGBTQ scene (Cupcakes, Out in the Dark) and family dramas (Igor and the Cranes, The World is Funny).
In addition to films on these familiar themes, many of which had groundbreaking international success both at the box office and as award-winners at festivals, Israeli cinema brought new worlds to the public eye and broached new genres.
Fill the Void, Israel's submission to the 2013 Oscars, takes place within the Ultra-Orthodox community in Tel Aviv. While Ultra-Orthodox communities have been featured in Israeli movies in the past, Rama Burshtein's film is unique in its approach. Fill the Void welcomes the viewer into the Orthodox world and allows the viewer to settle there without the secular "tour guide"(the lapsed brother, the secular friends) on which other films about the community rely.
One of the most provocative Israeli films of this year is a horror movie -- a genre Israeli filmmakers have mostly avoided. Billed as Israel's first horror movie, Big Bad Wolves is a distinctly Israeli horror film. The plot, the blood, and the fright will all be familiar to horror film lovers, but the dark humor, the script, and the characters are particular to this film and reflect a particularly Israeli sensibility. As horror filmmaking develops in Israel Big Bad Wolves may prove to be the model for what horror films from Israel will look like.
During 2013 Israeli cinema has become increasingly visible throughout the US, as both documentaries and narrative film have achieved notable box office success. As Israel's films gain exposure and distinction, filmmakers continue to aim to reach international audiences by taking risks and experimenting in new genres.
We expect Israeli cinema to continue to grow in 2014 -- both in scope and influence, and look forwarding to bringing you more Israeli films in the year to come.