For the third year running, an Israeli film is a nominee for the foreign film Oscar. I offer some thoughts on the difference between current and classic Israeli films in the current issue of The Forward:
When I was an adolescent growing up in America in the early 1970s, I knew of only two Israeli films. There was the soldier movie — that was Yosef Milo’s “He Walked Through the Fields.” And there was the one about Jaffa’s underclass — that was Menachem Golan’s “Kazablan.”
Four decades later, for three years in a row, Israeli films have been Oscar nominees for the best foreign-language film. Of the three, two are soldier films — Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort and Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir. The third is this year’s nominee, Ajami, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s saga of the Jaffa underclass.
So what’s new?
The easy answer is that the two older films are inspiring and uplifting, while the three new ones are depressing and angst-ridden . . .