- Genres in Jewish and Israeli Cinema
This issue of Jewish Film & New Media continues the series on Israeli media studies, which began last year with an issue on the treatment of Jewish religious themes in Israeli films and television programs. These special issues are based on small scholars’ conferences usually held once a year at various academic institutions as part of a new scholarly framework for the exploration of Jewish and Israeli media.
The current issue is dedicated to aspects of genre in Israeli media. Generic boundaries of visual arts have expanded greatly in the last decade or so with the increasing influence of the Internet as both a ubiquitous delivery platform as well as a medium in and of itself. In Israel’s multifaceted society these trends have a special restonance and are manifest in various genres, including Mizrahi productions, works that examine religious versus secular tensions, and even those categorized as more “fluffy” genres, such as horror and other varieties. These works reflect the many faces of Israeli society and express its various contours.
The reincarnation of television shows as Internet programs delivered on demand is one of the most obvious examples of this development. In this rapidly evolving world that combines art and commerce in ever-more complex ways, Israeli visual culture has become one of the most dynamic and innovative grounds for such creative activity. This is not only valid for so-called television programs, or Internet TV shows, which are an increasingly international trend. It is also true of cinema, which is influenced by these trends in various ways as well. This issue, which originated at a dedicated conference held at Haifa University in August [End Page 1] 2015, explores these changing boundaries as well as the blending of genres more broadly.
The first three articles deal with contemporary Israeli cinema. Neta Alexander identifies a new group of Israeli films which she terms the “New Violence” cinema. Side-stepping for the most part violence related to the Israeli-Arab conflict, these films express the mounting levels of violence in Israeli society in sinister ways that are mostly directed internally. Yael Munk examines the ethical choices that inhere in aesthetics by examining Arnon Goldfinger’s 2011 documentary film, Hadira (The Flat), as film noir. Macabit Abramson examines “genre” more expansively by looking at the emergence of a new Mizrahi femininity in the films of Ronit Elkabetz—one that rebels against older and more traditional cinematic images of Mizrahi womanhood.
The last three articles focus on television shows. Shayna Weiss looks at the series Srugim (2008–2012) in a global context as a niche show that caters to specific international audiences who benefit from Internet delivery platforms that cross political, cultural, and geographic boundaries. Ronen Gil looks at new formulations of Mizrahi masculinity in Israel which, owing to international influences—primarily American—are refigured in the popular TV show Haborer (The Arbitrator, 2007–2014), exhibiting a hybrid, cross-cultural masculinity. Finally, Lee Weinberg’s article looks at the intersections between Israeli art history and Israeli television series, as well as at their recent international success, to understand what makes contemporary Israeli art and media works accessible to international audiences, and how this recent success reflects changes in Israeli and Jewish constructions of identity. [End Page 2]
Yaron Peleg is Kennedy-Leigh Lecturer in Modern Hebrew Studies at the University of Cambridge. His publications include Derech Gever: Homoeroticism in Hebrew Literature (2003), Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination (2005), and Israeli Culture Between the Two Intifadas (2008). He is also co-editor of an anthology of articles on contemporary Israeli cinema, Identities in Motion (2011). His most recent monograph, Directed by God: Jewishness in Contemporary Israeli Film and Television, is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2016. email@example.com
Yvonne Kozlovsky-Golan, senior lecturer, chairs the graduate program for Culture and Film Studies, Humanities Faculty, at the University of Haifa. Dr. Kozlovsky-Golan studies the connections among history, law, and film in the cinematic representation of the wars of the twentieth century and the traumatic events of that century. Her research examines cinema...