Israel is a diverse and controversial country, a melting pot of cultures- and what can give you a better understanding of a culture than films?
We gathered this list for you to dive into the heart of Israel – to explore the family life, challenges, the different world views and beliefs, the humor of the nation and much more.
Be prepared to laugh, cry, sing and be filled with excitement!
1. Waltz with Bashir (2008) – Ari Folman
This animated-documentary film takes us on an emotional trip down Folman’s memory lane and tells the story of the Sabra and Chatila massacres in the 1982 Lebanese war. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. You won’t be able to remain indifferent after watching this film.
2. Zero motivation (2014) – Talya Lavie
This comedy – drama film gives a hilarious, dark and truthful portrait of the daily life of a unit of Female Israeli soldiers serving at a remote base. Winner of the Best Narrative Feature Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and a huge commercial hit in Israel, this is definitely a must!
3. The Band’s Visit (2007) – Eran Kolirin
Turned into a successful Broadway musical, this film tells the story of 8 member of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police orchestra arriving to Israel from Egypt. Coming from a big cultural and conservative city, they arrive by mistake, to a fictional, secular with no culture town in the middle of the Negev desert- “There is not Arab center here… not culture, not Israeli culture, not Arab, not culture at all”. The encounter of the orchestra members and the inhabitants is both hilarious and heartwarming.
4. Sallah Shabati (1964) – Ephraim Kishon
A classic and hilarious social satire following the story of Mizrahi Jewish immigrants, Sallah Shabati (a word play of ‘sorry for coming’) and his family. We watch as they navigate and adjust to their new lives in Israel.
5. Beaufort (2007) – Joseph Cedar, Ron Leshem
Fascinated Israeli war film based on Leshem’s novel ‘If There’s a Heaven’.
An IDF unit stationed at a mountain outpost, near the Beaufort Castle, just before the withdrawal from southern Lebanon. We join the characters in their most intimate moments as they are under constant bombing, experiencing anxiety and fear and dealing with the question of ‘Why are we here?’.
6. Sand Storm (2016) – Elite Zexer
Set in Bedouin village in the Negev Desert, a family is trying to cope with a new reality- The second marriage of the Father and a forbidden love affair between the daughter and a boy from a different tribe. A heartbreaking love story and one that talks about the oppression of women and between women in Bedouin culture.
7. The Other Story (2018) – Avi Nesher, Noam Shpancer
A young woman from a secular family is following her musician boyfriend down the religious path. The two get engaged and prepare for their wedding. Her not so understanding divorced parents and her grandpa, gather forces to stop the wedding at all cost.
An emotional tale about family, beliefs and trust.
Other films worth mentioning:
Charlie Ve’Hezi (1974) – a classic comedy Bourekas film directed by Boaz Davidson, written by Eli Tavor.
Kazablan (1973)- the Israeli version of west side story. directed by Larry Frisch, screen play adaption by Alex Maimon
Broken Wings (2002) – by Nir Bergman. A touching story of a mother and her four children dealing with the sudden death of the father.
Giv’at Halfon Eina Ona (1976) – an Israeli cult film directed by Assi Dayan and co-written by Assi Dayan and Naftali Alter. It portraits the absurd reality of the IDF reserve service after the Yom Kippur War.
Fill the void (2012) – Rama Burshtein – a Hassidic girl, pressured to marry the husband of her older sister following her death.
Did you watch any of these movies? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!