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A History of Israeli Cinema (Part 1)

Directed by: Raphaël Nadjari
108 Minutes, 2009, Documentary

According to filmmaker Raphael Nadjari, Israeli cinema has gone through two stages. The first, 1933-1978, began with the nature of Zionism and exaltation of the Israeli endeavor in Palestine and ended in a more personal study of the Ashkenazi psyche. The second stage, 1978-2005, was defined by a greater diversity of topics as filmmakers tackled everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the contradictions of modern life. A History of Israeli Cinema tells the story of the building of a gaze on a society torn by ethnics, religious, and political conflicts. It attempts to understand, to denounce, and to explore these complex subjects, always searching for the right ethic, the right form. A History of Israeli Cinema is the result of years of research, studies, documentation, screening, and interviews. Actors, thinkers, producers, filmmakers, professors, and critics worked to build a narrative that remains fragile and incomplete. It is the process rather than the result that is shared here.

Watch Part 2 here.


Director: Raphaël Nadjari

Producer: Amir Feingold

Producer: Bruno Nahon

Producer: Félicie Roblin

Producer: Paul Rozenberg

Cast: Naftali Alter

Cast: Mohammed Bakri

Cast: Haim Bouzaglo

Distributor: Kino Lorber

Distributor: Zadig Productions

Distributor: Arte France Cinema

Distributor: Feingold Productions

Distributor: United King Films

Distributor: Centre National de la Cinematographie

Distributor: Rabinovich Film Fund Cinema Project

Distributor: Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah


Award-winning filmmaker Raphaël Nadjari (


, SFJFF 2008) weaves together in-depth research and extraordinary film clips spanning more than 60 years to give us a kaleidoscopic visual retelling of the history of a national cinema. Dividing his film chronologically, Nadjari has crafted an assemblage of fascinating interviews with leading Israeli actors, producers, film critics, scholars and filmmakers, laced with film sequences spanning early silent films to the present-day renaissance of the Israeli film industry. Part One begins in 1933 with visions of the Zionist dream and takes us to 1978, when themes of memory and loss share the spotlight. The second part, from 1978 to 2005, vibrantly depicts the wave of political films from the 1980s contrasted to the more personal cinema of today. Interviewees include Amos Gitai, Joseph Cedar, Avi Mograbi, Yehuda Ne’eman, Menachem Golan, Moshe Ivgy, Ronit Elkabetz and Zeev Revach. A “must see” for any fan of Israeli cinema and a fabulous introduction for the uninitiated.  

—Janis Plotkin, Mill Valley Film Festival