Article

Israeli Cinema

Raz Yosef and Boaz Hagin

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0106
Israeli Cinema

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Scholarship on Zionist and Israeli cinema is in agreement as to the major periods and movements in this corpus. During the prestate period, and especially after the 1920s, the Zionist movement used cinema to propagate Zionist ideology and to gather financial and political support. Following the 1948 independence of the State of Israel, and during the 1950s and 1960s, Israeli films continued to comply with the Zionist master-narrative. A heroic-nationalist genre related to the emergence of a generation of native-born Israelis—Sabras—now made the new Israeli warriors, and not the pioneering group, its protagonists. In the 1960s and 1970s, two genres that broke away from representing heroic nationalist mythology can be discerned. One is the popular Bourekas genre—mainly comedies but also melodramas and musicals—that focuses on the interethnic tension between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Israeli society, which is resolved through the (ideologically suspect according to many scholars) union of a mixed ethnic couple. A different, small group of films from the mid-1960s and 1970s has been labeled by critics and scholars as personal cinema, Israeli modernist cinema, the Israeli New Wave, or the New Sensibility. These are often extremely low-budget, black-and-white, and ostensibly apolitical films that are characterized by experimental cinematic techniques; fragmentary, minimal, and open-ended narratives; alienated protagonists; and existential themes. While the Bourekas films were extremely successful at the box office but loathed by many critics, the personal cinema was warmly received by critics but suffered from dismal ticket sales. From the late 1970s, with the rise of the right-wing Likud Party, through the early 1990s, Israeli cinema was dominated by explicitly political films that tried to challenge the Zionist ideology of the past and gave increased visibility to outsiders and outcasts. This is also the period in which substantial academic scholarship on Israeli cinema began to appear, with works by Judd Ne’eman, Ella Shohat, and scholars such as Nurith Gertz, Nitzan Ben-Shaul, Yosefa Loshitzky, Yael Munk, Raz Yosef, Régine-Mihal Friedman, Orly Lubin, and Anat Zanger. Since the 1990s, and especially in the new millennium, Israeli films have enjoyed critical and popular success both locally and internationally. Scholarship has noted this cinema’s complex explorations of trauma and personal and collective memories and identities.

Article.  15668 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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