Nothing if not complicated, life in modern Israel is for most people conditioned by the conflict with Palestine, conscription, immigration, and internal security. Here’s a selection of urgent movies that address these defining issues.
Waltz With Bashir (2008)
Director Ari Forman’s animated documentary deals with his inability to remember his participation as a 19-year-old soldier in 1982’s First Lebanon War. Flashbacks and interviews with the other men who served in his unit help him to recall the tragic events he experienced, including the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Poignant, dark and sometimes funny, this film sheds light on horrors that former soldiers may consciously or unconsciously eliminate.
Zero Motivation (2014)
Soldiers chosen for combat are highly respected in Israeli society – less so conscripts whose “action” is restricted to making coffee and filing papers. Talya Lavie’s film is about two young women soldiers who begin their military service doing just that. Zero Motivation does not, therefore, capture the fame and glory that comes with wearing the army uniform. Instead it highlights, not without humor, the boredom of those who heed the call of duty behind a desk instead of a gun.
Israel’s population of immigrants continues to grow each year. Manpower‘s central theme is the distinctiveness of each person living in Israel and the interwoven narratives that connects one to another. The story centers on four men and their daily struggles, each of whom is either an immigrant or is connected to immigration in some way. While the movie focuses on what it means to be Israeli, it acknowledges the universal desire to find one’s personal and national identity.
The Gatekeepers (2012)
The members of Shin Bet, Israel’s highly secretive internal security agency, are among the highest-ranking officials charged with maintaining safety and stability in Israel. Director Dror Moreh got unprecedented access to the organization’s history and activities when he embarked on his documentary The Gatekeepers. The film provides broad insight into the powers that threaten Israel’s security and the forces behind Israeli policy-making.
The Other Son (2012)
French filmmaker Lorraine Lévy’s drama The Other Son follows two families – one Palestinian, one Israeli – and deals with themes central to the creation of the Israeli identity. After it is revealed to each set of parents that their sons were accidentally switched at birth, they slowly come to terms with the information and gradually develop a bond that transcends borders. The movie challenges conventional ideas of what is means to be part of a family and shows the humanistic side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
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