Programmed by Zain Jamshaid
Thanks to a grant from the Gemunder Family Fund and the generous support of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, and the Newberger Hillel Center at the University of Chicago , this entire series is FREE!
(Amos Gitai, 2000) · Gitai made his debut in the early 1980s with a series of political documentaries (Home, Field Diary) that were censored on Israeli television. He has since emerged as one of Israel’s most revered and prolific filmmakers. Kippur, his elegiac, uncompromisingly visceral reconstruction of the Yom Kippur War, follows two friends on their way to join their unit in the Golan Heights, only to be sidetracked and made part of a medical team rescuing wounded soldiers. This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 124 min format: 35mm
(Dover Koshashvili, 2001) · Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi, in a breakout role that catapulted him to stardom) is under family pressure to enter an arranged marriage within his own traditional Georgian-Jewish community, but he is drawn to Judith (the incomparable Ronit Elkabetz), a free-spirited divorcee of Moroccan descent. This remarkably observed “culture-clash” comedy has also been celebrated for depicting what many have described as "the most believable sex scene ever filmed." This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 102 min format: 35mm
(David Volach, 2007) · David Volach’s thematically complex, poetic reinterpretation of a familiar biblical parable recounts the fraught relationship between a rigidly doctrinaire rabbi (iconic Israeli actor-director Assi Dayan) and his young only son, the sensitive and endlessly curious Menahem. Rendered primarily from the child’s perspective, this gorgeously photographed film (with its hints of early Terence Davies) brings its ideas home with force in the poignant final shot. This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 72 min format: 35mm
(Ari Folman, 2008) · Folman’s fervently-debated autobiographical “animated documentary” is a deeply personal and impressionistic account of the massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila during the First Lebanon War. Through a wholly original, complex interweaving of fact and fantasy, reality and myth, Waltz boldly attempts to examine and cope with the filmmaker-protagonist’s (and the audience’s) repression of the memory of the atrocities. This screening is free and open to the public. Students from J Street UChicago will be hosting an optional discussion in the theater directly following the film
runtime: 90 min format: 35mm
(Haim Tabakman, 2009) · Before the early Noughties, queer Israeli cinema was almost exclusively associated with two filmmakers, Amos Guttman (Amazing Grace) and Eytan Fox (Time Off). Recent years have seen a marked proliferation of stories of LGBTQ people in Israeli film. Eyes Wide Open, a sensual, beautifully acted tale of a doomed love affair between two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men—a married butcher and his younger apprentice—is among the highlights in this recent outpouring in Israeli cinema.
This screening is free and open to the public. runtime: 91 min format: DVD
(Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, 2009) · Through an ambitious, nonlinear, and multi-stranded narrative, this unsparing and starkly realistic drama traces the effects of a brutal vendetta killing on numerous individuals—Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Israelis, all residing in the rough neighborhood of Ajami—whose lives collide in ways expected and unexpected. Few films have illuminated the socio-political and cultural fissures in Israeli life today with the feverish eloquence and urgency of Ajami. This screening is free and open to the public. Students from J Street UChicago will be hosting an optional discussion in the theater directly following the film
runtime: 124 min format: 35mm
(Dror Moreh, 2012) · Moreh’s documentary offers an unprecedented look into Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. Six surviving former agency heads provide astonishingly candid assessments of their country's and organization’s political successes and failures. Film critic A. O. Scott correctly noted that “…it is hard to imagine a movie about the Middle East...more timely, more painfully urgent, more challenging to conventional wisdom on all sides of the conflict.” This screening is free and open to the public. Students from J Street UChicago will be hosting an optional discussion in the theater directly following the film
runtime: 101 min format: 35mm
(Rama Burshtein, 2012) · After the unexpected death of her older sister, a young Haredi woman is gently encouraged by her family to marry her widowed brother-in-law. Upending easy assumptions about a devoutly religious people, this romantic melodrama stands out as an affectionate and sensitive exploration of marriage and gender roles in the Haredi community from the inside. Burshstein is the first ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman to write and direct a feature for a general audience. This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 90 min format: 35mm
(Nadav Lapid, 2011) · This structurally bifurcated film at first details the everyday activities of the all-male members of an elite anti-terrorism unit, then shifts its attention to another group, a band of young, Jewish leftists forming a terrorist plot (“It’s time for the poor to get rich, and the rich to start dying,” one of them declares). The groups’ paths eventually cross in Lapid’s devastatingly acute and timely diagnosis of modern Israel’s socioeconomic maladies. This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 105 min format: DCP
(Talya Lavie, 2014) · Carrying echoes of MASH and Catch-22, this irreverent, black military-comedy—at once both buoyant and melancholic—follows the (mis)adventures of a unit of bored female Israeli soldiers in a remote desert outpost. Talya Lavie’s debut feature was the most (inter)nationally successful Israeli film of 2014, the most profitable year for local films at the Israeli box office so far, with almost 600,000 admissions in Israel alone. This screening is free and open to the public.
runtime: 97 min format: DCP