It’s been another year of major blockbusters at the box office in 2015, from the record-breaking ticket sales of “Jurassic World” and the psychological machinations of “Inside Out” to another round of “Minions” and the recovered glory of the seventh installment in the Star Wars series with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
While most Israeli films don’t make the same kinds of millions as the Hollywood industry, there’s more than a few that pack a punch and are well worth screening.
With another year of mind-probing, historical and gut-wrenching films under the Israeli film industry’s belt, it’s time to raise our champagne flutes and update our download lists to include the top five Israeli flicks of 2015.
So pop up some popcorn, spring open the sours and enjoy the year in motion pictures.
1) Documentary filmmaker and Haifa native Amos Gitai captured the final days of Yitzhak Rabin’s premiership and what some would call his “predestined” assassination in his film “Rabin, The Last Day.” Rabin’s assassination on November 4, 1995, by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir shattered hopes of national peace after Rabin signed the Oslo Accords. This is Gitai’s second film influenced by Rabin, following his film “Territories,” which debuted in 1996. In 153 minutes of spellbinding cinematography, Gitai cuts into the crux of Rabin’s inner leftist circle and the right-wing diplomats who awaited his resignation. Israel released the film on November 5 and has since received international acclaim at the Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and New York Jewish Film Festival.
2) Director Dror Shaul stirs up a bit of tension, humor and heat in his Iran-conflict comedy “Atomic Falafel.” The film revolves around two warring towns in Israel and Iran who spill military secrets on Iran’s nuclear attack. The 100-minute short pokes fun by comparing the fatalistic mindset of a warmongering past to a social media and WiFi-inspired generation. The film features stars a commander who mimics Moshe Dayan. Released last September, “Atomic Falafel” fills your order for a night of gut-wrenching laughter.
3) In “Baba Joon” Yuval Delshad captures the clash between a father’s expectations and a son’s aspirations in a coming of age tale set on the sandy slopes of an Israeli turkey farm. Delshad makes use of Negev panoramas, poignant orchestrated sound and brilliant acting. The Israeli Film Academy nominated the 91-minute film for Best Director (Yuval Delshad), Best Supporting Actor (Asher Avrahami), and Best Sound (Moti Hefetz and Gil Toren), and took home awards for Best Cinematography (Ofer Inov), Best Casting (Noa Ella), Best Art Direction (Yuda Acco), Best Music (Eyal Saeed Mani) and Best Film. The film was chosen as Israel’s 2016 entry for the Oscars.
4) Directors Matti Harari and Arik Lubetzki drew international attention with “Apples from the Desert,” a film that depicts the tug-of-war between holding on to tradition and letting go, when the protagonist, an ultra-Orthodox teenager, explores the world of modernity biting from forbidden fruit. Released in May, “Apples From the Desert” won the Israel Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award. Moran Rosenblatt stars as the lead, Rivka Abarbanel, with supporting roles played by Reymond Amsalem, Elisha Banai and Shlomi Koriat.
5) In “Censored Voices,” Mor Loushy revealed to Sundance and the rest of the world untold details about the 1967 Six Day War from the soldiers’ perspective. Like retrieving a time capsule, Loushy’s documentary provides first accounts in real time from the soldiers themselves as they recapture Jerusalem, Sinai, Gaza and the West Bank. One week after the war, Amos Oz, a renowned author, recorded conversations with soldiers as they reflected on war. Loushy couples black-and-white cinematography with untold interviews. The 84-minute film was released in November and has captured sweeping acclaim in just over a month as both a piece of art and piece of history.