Identities in Motion
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright
Motion fiction is, among many other things, a cultural medium for the articulation of collective identities. When we say “collective,” we mean people who experience films, interpret them, and identify with them from a certain “subject position,” which is always...
Part 1: The Nation Imagined on Film
1. Filming the Homeland: Cinema in Eretz Israel and the Zionist Movement, 1917–1939
The cinematic depiction of the historical return of the Jewish people to their homeland from 1917 through 1939 is the subject of this essay. After four centuries of consecutive Ottoman rule, which left a profound mark on the country, in 1917 the British...
2. Helmar Lerski in Israel
Helmar Lerski’s first book of photographs caught the imagination and the spirit of the intelligentsia of the late Weimar Republic with its mixture of reality and artifice, working-class solidarity and high art aspirations, black-and-white earthiness...
3. Ecce Homo: The Transfiguration of Israeli Manhood in Israeli Films
This chapter examines the metamorphosis that the image of Israeli men has undergone on the screen: from engaged, enterprising, daring, bold, brash, brave New Jews or New Hebrews—Palmakhniks (volunteer warriors in the pre-state Jewish...
Part II: War and Its Aftermath
4. From Hill to Hill: A Brief History of the Representation of War in Israeli Cinema
This essay is not an attempt to tell the complete story of the representation of war in Israeli cinema, which is far beyond its reach. Instead of a complete history I offer a selective view of the field, deriving from the present. The films...
5. From Hero to Victim: The Changing Image of the Soldier on the Israeli Screen
In a country with universal conscription which has been in a declared state of war since its inception—officially and frequently in actuality—it should be of little surprise that the military has figured prominently in Israeli cinema...
6. The Lady and the Death Mask
Many films produced in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s may be grouped within the modernist genre of film. It has been said of modernism that it is a genre of “anti-art” aimed at “negating every accepted style and, ultimately, at negating...
7. Coping with the Legacy of Death: The War Widow in Israeli Films
Given Israel’s long and unresolved conflict with the Palestinians and its continuing toll on human life, one might expect that the character of the war widow would occupy an important place among the cinematic representations...
8. The Privatization of War Memory in Recent Israeli Cinema
The memory of war has been etched in the consciousness of Israel since its bloody birth in 1948. Expressions such as “war of survival” and “War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness” became central to the way Israelis perceived...
Part III: An Ethno-Cultural Kaleidoscope
9. Disjointed Narratives in Contemporary Israeli Films
Ethnicity has always posed a challenge to secular national culture. Therefore it usually has been articulated in cultural production in relation to the question of nationality, often in terms of the degree of incorporation of ethnicity into the national...
10. Trajectories of Mizrahi Cinema
The popular Bourekas genre of the 1960s and 1970s, marked by its stereotypical treatment of ethnicity, is often considered the harbinger of Mizrahi cinema—a corpus of films featuring the dilemmas of a subjugated Israeli collective whose...
11. Immigrant Cinema: Russian Israelis on Screens and behind the Cameras
In 2005 the new reality show Israeli Project Greenlight premiered on local cable. As in the original American show, the prize was half a million dollars and a chance to make a first film. The competition attracted hundreds of aspiring...
Part IV: Holocaust and Trauma
12. The Holocaust in Israeli Cinema as a Conflict between Survival and Morality
The global discourse on the linkage between the Holocaust and Israel is subject to intense political debates regarding the implications of the connection between the Holocaust and Israel. The spectrum of the political views ranges from support...
13. Near and Far: The Representation of Holocaust Survivors in Israeli Feature Films
The immigration to Israel of approximately 500,000 Holocaust survivors in the aftermath of World War II has found ample expression in Israeli cinema throughout the years. Scholars of Israeli cinema maintain that the cinematic Zionist narrative...
14. Homonational Desires: Masculinity, Sexuality, and Trauma in the Cinema of Eytan Fox
Zionism’s political project of liberating the Jewish people and creating a nation like all other nations was intertwined with a longing for the sexual redemption and normalization of the Jewish male body. In fin-de-siècle anti-Semitic scientific-medical discourse...
Part V: Jewish Orthodoxy Revisited
15. Negotiating Judaism in Contemporary Israeli Cinema: The Spiritual Style of My Father, My Lord
In reviewing the developing relationship between center and periphery within Israeli society of the past several decades, one cannot help but notice— and indeed be amazed by—a radical change in the stature of Jewish religion and religious...
16. Seeking the Local, Engaging the Global: Women and Religious Oppression in a Minor Film
Penetrating the intimacy of a world fixed in a religious time zone, otherwise hermetically sealed from its contemporary surroundings, the film Kadosh (Sacred; Amos Gitai, 1999) portrays the life of abstinence at the core of one of Jerusalem’s...
17. Beaufort and My Father, My Lord: Traces of the Binding Myth and the Mother’s Voice
David Grossman uses indirect speech in order to describe the thoughts of his protagonist, Ora, as she accompanies her son to the meeting point before a military operation. Two levels of significance intertwine here. On one level...
Part VI: Filming the Palestinian Other
18. The Foreigner Within and the Question of Identity in Fictitious Marriage and Streets of Yesterday
Haim Bouzaglo’s Fictitious Marriage (1988) and Judd Neʾeman’s Streets of Yesterday (1989) were made during a time when the violent events of the first Palestinian uprising (Intifada) had engendered a heightened sense of mistrust in Israel...
19. A Rave against the Occupation? Speaking for the Self and Excluding the Other in Contemporary Israeli Political Cinema
In an early scene in The Bubble (Eytan Fox, 2006) we see Yahlli, a flamboyant Tel Aviv gay waiter, trying to dress Ashraf, a Palestinian from Nablus, to fit in at the trendy café where Ashraf has just been hired under the assumption that he is...
20. Borders in Motion: The Evolution of the Portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Contemporary Israeli Cinema
During the 1980s a remarkable phenomenon occurred in Israeli cinema. The main genre attracted leading directors who chose to identify with Israel’s most entrenched enemy—the Palestinian people. The major films of the decade...
21. Smashing Up the Face of History: Trauma and Subversion in Kedma and Atash
Find the differences: Scene 1: Long shot. A ship’s deck. A crowd of people fills the frame, winding like streams toward the little boats tied to the ship’s side. They are moving along, across the frame, from top to bottom, from bottom to top...
Part VII: New Cinematic Discourses
22. Discursive Identities in the (R)evolution of the New Israeli Queer Cinema
Contemporary Israeli Queer Cinema is inspired by the North American and West European New Queer Cinema. It is mostly known for Eytan Fox’s melodramatic films Yossi and Jagger (2002), a love story between two Israeli soldiers, and...
23. Kibbutz Films in Transition: From Morality to Ethics
What does Israeli cinema say about kibbutz life? Does it try to tell the “truth,” reveal untold stories of conflicts, tensions, and violence behind the kibbutz myth, as for example many films from the 1980s do?1 Or does it criticize kibbutz ideology...
24. The End of a World, the Beginning of a New World: The New Discourse of Authenticity and New Versions of Collective Memory in Israeli Cinema
Stuart Hall has argued that cultural identity is about both “being” and “becoming.” 1 We constitute ourselves not only as “what we really are” but also in terms of “what we have become,” as history intervenes and subjects individuals and communities...
Page Count: 391
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Jewish Life, History, and Culture
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