A. A. KRYUKOV
Head of the Representative Office of Rossotrudnichestvo in Israel
Key words: Israel, cinema, culture
The history of cinema in Israel dates back to the creation of the state in 1948. At first, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, films were produced rather for the purpose of national propaganda. They spoke about the Jewish revival in the "historical homeland", about the difficulties faced by the young state, and about the struggle with them. Inter-communal and religious conflicts, uneasy relations between religious and secular citizens of the country, as well as a complex of problems related to immigration and the entry of new citizens into the life of the country were not ignored.
This period of Israeli cinema has been called "Zionist realism"by critics and film historians. Each director tried, first of all, to pay his patriotic duty to the "historical homeland".
In 1952, the Cinematography Department was established as part of the General Federation of Israeli Workers (Histadrut - the largest trade union in the country, which also includes family members of employees). At the same time, a unit with similar information and cultural tasks was created in the structure of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
In the middle of the 20th century, Israeli cinema developed such pressing problems for the country as state security and military operations, life in kibbutzim*, development of the Negev desert areas in southern Israel, military service, and immigration problems. As a rule, films were created with funds from governmental or quasi-governmental organizations, such as the National Renaissance Foundation.
Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, the situation has changed radically. A new generation of native Israelis has grown up in the country. State support for the film industry has also increased. The government was willing to almost fully reimburse the cost of making any film that was released under the "Made in Israel" label, which attracted a lot of private investors to the Israeli film industry.
Films have changed both in form and content. The share of propaganda films has decreased, and new genres of films have appeared: comedies, action films, melodramas, films for children, etc. In search of stories for the film adaptation, directors are increasingly turning to literary sources, including Israeli ones. So, the famous film "Salah Shabati", which tells about the establishment of a family of Yemeni Jews in Israel, is based on short sketches by the famous Israeli satirist Efraim Kishon. The success of the film was incredible: it was viewed by more than 1.2 million viewers. Israeli viewers.
In the 1960s, Israeli cinema came under the influence of Hollywood stylistics. Some filmmakers have a successful career in the United States, such as director and producer Menachem Golan, who created action and police thrillers featuring the famous American athlete and actor Chuck Norris.
The 1970s were marked by the emergence of the so-called burekas. This word translated from Hebrew "puff pastry" began to be applied to films, short stories-
* A kibbutz is an agricultural commune characterized by community of property and equality in labor and consumption, as well as non-wage labor.
in particular, about ordinary Israelis: open, honest and committed to traditions, so unlike Europeans. The Israelis in such films usually meant Sephardim-natives of Asian and African countries.
In the 1970s and 1980s, only a few Israeli films managed to gain international fame. For example, in 1977, director Moshe Mizrahi was awarded an Academy Award for the film "Madame Rosa" with Simone Signoret in the title role.
In the next decade, quite unexpectedly, the hero of the new Israeli cinema was a Palestinian Arab who turned from an enemy into a charismatic hero ("Behind the Wall", dir. Uri Barash, 1984; "Khamsin", dir. Daniel Waxman, 1982, etc.). The Arab-Israeli conflict has become steadily described by the media as a never-ending national tragedy.
The beginning of the 1990s in the history of Israeli cinema is associated with the emergence of an important trend: the theme of the Arab-Israeli conflict gradually began to give way to other problems. Israeli cinema, more focused on Europe, gradually ceases to be propagandistic, orthodox and draws attention to the problems of the individual and the family, the coexistence of different ethnic cultures in the country. In this regard, the film "Circus Palestine" (1998) directed by Eyal Halfon is indicative, which does not idealize either Jews or Palestinians. One of the main themes of creative research is the moral problem of tolerance.
This period in the history of Israeli cinema is called "pluralistic realism". Now local cinema often becomes the expression of the views of the left-wing political wing in Israel.
IF THE COUNTRY CHANGES, THE CINEMA CHANGES
Despite state support for the cinema industry, its funding remains insufficient. In the entire history of the national film industry, less than 500 films have been shot. In accordance with the adopted Law on Cinema, the state is obliged to allocate a certain amount of money for the production of films and TV shows. Half of the cost of the film is paid by the Israeli Film Foundation. Every year, at least 14 new art paintings appear. Currently, despite all the difficulties and competition of commercial television, Israeli cinema is experiencing a boom.
A few years ago, Dan Fainaru, an Israeli film critic and vice-president of the International Federation of Film Critics, said that Israelis go to cinemas to see American films, and at home they watch their native cinema on TV. Now this situation is changing.
In Israel , a country that deals exclusively with its own internal and external problems, the most popular Israeli films are those made not according to Western standards, not in the American or European traditions.
We are talking about original films that are sometimes purchased by other countries, including the United States. Of course, it should be borne in mind that the motive for purchasing an Israeli film abroad is the opinion of the local Jewish community, whose members, at least in this way, realize their need to be part of the Jewish people and feel belonging to the "historical homeland".
In recent years, Israeli cinema has received a long-awaited international recognition. So, the film " Kadosh "(dir. Amos Gitai, 1999) was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes. In 2005, actress Hana Laszlo won the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival for Best actress in the film "Free Zone" (dir. Amos Gitai). The film " Lebanon "(dir. Samuel Maoz, 2009) won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Israeli cinema has changed a lot in terms of content. The directors, having abandoned the ideological state-Zionist attitudes, turned to the person. Personal problems and universal values come to the fore.
Israel has already developed its own school of cinematography. One of the most famous educational institutions is the Jerusalem Spiegel School, which received the title of "Outstanding School" at the Munich Film Festival. Her works win prestigious prizes at international film forums. For example, the film "Broken Wings" (dir. Nir Bergman, 2002) earned 8 international awards; the film "Medusa" (dir. Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, 2007) was awarded the Golden Camera Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Another prestigious institution is the Film School (Faculty of Film and Television) of Tel Aviv University, among the students and graduates of which there are immigrants from the USSR-Leon (Leonid) Prudovsky and Arik Kaplun (Russia), Dover Kokhashvili (Georgia), who have already received Israeli and international awards for their films.
The old image of Israeli cinema as provincial and semi-amateur is currently not well founded. This is confirmed by the regular international forums of cinematographers held in Israel. One of them is the rather prestigious Jerusalem International Film Festival, which has been held for a quarter of a century.
In 1988, the Haifa International Film Festival was founded-
tival (director of Pnina Blyer), which turned into a major cultural event in Israel. From year to year, dozens of films by famous directors from many countries of the world take part in the competition programs. In addition, the festival organizes special film programs and thematic screenings of film classics and novelties of world cinema, master classes of famous film directors and retro screenings. In October 2009, the XXV Haifa International Film Festival was held, where new Russian films were also presented.
The most prestigious award for cinematographers is the Ophir Award, which is presented annually by the Israeli Film Academy (Chairman-Mark Rosenbaum). In 2009, the award for best film was awarded to the film "Ajami", which was directed by Israeli Yaron Shani and Palestinian Sakander Kubati. For ten days of distribution, the film was watched by 20 thousand viewers. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010 in the category "Best Foreign Film".
However, despite its success, the film was met with controversy from some members of the right-wing Israeli establishment, who were shocked by the overwhelming presence of Arabic speech in the film.
Samuel Maoz's film "Lebanon" (2009), about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon following the victory in Venice, won the Israeli Film Academy Awards for best cinematography, production design and musical score.
THE "RUSSIAN" TRAIL IN ISRAELI CINEMA
Since 2007, Haifa has also hosted a festival of contemporary Israeli cinema created by Russian-speaking filmmakers - "Summer of Israeli Films on Adar". Films are shown with a translation into Russian. The festival was established by Yes TV Company, Haifa Cinematheque and the Israel Film Foundation.
Among the Russian-speaking film figures who emigrated to Israel are such well-known directors as Mikhail Kalik, Frank Hertz, Peter Mostovoy, Lina and Slava Chaplin, Leonid Horovets; actors Vladimir Fridman, Alexey Shtukin, Hera Sandler, actresses Ethel Kovenskaya, Natalia Manor, Elena Yaralova and others. One of the most popular Russian-speaking actresses in Israel is Yevgenia Dodina, who came to Israel from Belarus more than 20 years ago.
The situation of Russian-speaking filmmakers in Israel is far from clear. Representatives of the older generation of cinematographers, such as M. Kalik and G. Frank, cannot find material and moral support for their projects from the official and creative circles of Israel, so they are forced to make films abroad.
The younger generation of people from the USSR / CIS managed to overcome Israeli stereotypes, according to which the work of Russian-speaking cinematographers is considered too "Soviet". A prerequisite for successful promotion was the creation of films in Hebrew, reflecting the realities of life in Israel, with the participation of screenwriters and actors-native Israelis. Nevertheless, in the works of such successful directors as A. Kaplun, L. Prudovsky, M. Ronkin, the "Russian" mentality prevails, which is expressed in the stylistic originality of their films, which, ultimately, more often brings success in the international arena than in Israel.
Russian-speaking directors and actors make a significant contribution to raising the international profile of Israeli cinematography. Among the best Israeli films: "Friends of Yana" (1999) by A. Kaplun, Grand Prix at the International Festival in Karlovy Vary; "Dark Night" (2005) by L. Prudovsky, special prize of the Venice Film Festival; "Trumpet in the Wadi" (2006) and "Torments in the Fire" (2008) by L. and S. Chaplin, nominated at the Moscow International Film Festival 2009;" Five Hours from Paris " (2008) by L. Prudovsky, prizes of the Haifa International Film Festival 2009 and others.
Nevertheless, surveys conducted among Russian-speaking Israelis show that the majority of them (about 65%) do not visit cinemas and do not watch Israeli films, even if they are made by Russian-speaking directors, because they do not know Hebrew. In addition, the majority of Russian-speaking viewers of the older and middle generation are skeptical about the achievements of Israeli cinema, considering it somewhat provincial.
Cooperation with Russian cinematographers has become a new direction in the development of modern Israeli cinema.
In 2004, the premiere screening of the film "Aryeh", the first experience of Israeli - Russian cooperation in the field of film production, took place at the XXI Jerusalem International Film Festival.
Since 2005, the International Festival "Russian Film" has been held in Israel, and in Russia the return event - the Forum of Israeli Cinema (since 2006). In 2009, this festival was held for the third time in the Russian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv. The purpose of the events is to introduce Russian and Israeli audiences to the most outstanding works of contemporary cinema in recent years, strengthen cultural and friendly ties, and establish an intercultural dialogue.
In the summer of 2009, Moscow hosted the IV Forum of Israeli Cinema in Russia. On its opening day, the premiere of the director's version of the new film of the founder and classic of the so - called "Riga school" of documentary filmmaking Hertz Frank - "Eternal Rehearsal", dedicated to the Israeli theater "Gesher" and its founder and creative director Eugene Arie.
The audience was shown Israeli feature films and documentaries "Children of Tehran" (2007), " Children of the Sun "(2007), "Champagne Spy" (2007), "Hannushka" (2006), the animated film "Lost in Tel Aviv" (2008), "Native Land" (2008), "Yotam" (2008).
In conclusion, it should be noted that in a relatively short period of time, Israeli cinema not only managed to create its own school of cinema art, but also to gain wide recognition among professionals and film lovers far beyond the country's borders.
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