Why Bother Making Israeli Films ?

Every year the Vancouver and Toronto Jewish Film Festivals screen the latest Israeli films as part of their annual festival offerings.

Then the quest begins !

Armed with their festival guide books I travel to Israel in the hopes of buying some of the films I have just enjoyed.  In the North American film industry there is usually a six month to a year lag between a film’s showing and the point at which it is made available in DVD format for sale to the general public.

In Israel this lag seems to average 1 – 2 years !  And when they are released it is invariably in PAL format, not the NTSC format used in North America.  Even then the trick is finding them on store shelves !

Fortunately several years ago I purchased a couple of PAL format DVD players so I can now buy any films I want in this format. I did this because Israel’s blockbuster DVD rental chain went out of business and I was able to purchase over 40 Israeli movies which they were disposing of.
I am not talking about the nominated films such as ‘Lebanon’, ‘The Band’s Visit’, ‘Lemon Tree’ and ‘Cemetary Club’  to name few, but rather what I would call societal Israeli films. The type that reveal a bit more of the simple everyday events in Israel.Films such as ‘Life in Stills’, ‘Black over White’, ‘Iraq N’ Roll’, ‘When Pigs Have Wings’ and ‘Galilee Eskimos’ to name but a few.

Even though armed with cold hard cash they are nowhere to be found.

Most Israeli CD/DVD stores have never even heard of them. I am usually directed to the Israeli section (should they have one) which is generally confined to a 8 by 4 foot bookshelf hidden amongst the re-released Steve Mcqueen, ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Crank’ DVD offerings.

Music CD’s present similar problems and most years after having flown half way around the world I will enter an Israeli CD store with Aretha Franklin playing full tilt to try and find the sound track to the ‘Srugim’ series or ‘Ballad of the Weeping Spring’.  Compilations of Ofra Haza they have, but no ‘Srugim’.

Perhaps some Israeli government ministry could arrange to assist the Israeli film industry in making Israeli DVD movies commercially available in a timely and cost effective manner.

I realize that economies of scale may play a part in all this, but there must be many others like myself who are of a certain age and who do not have the technical know how to down load (legally or illegally) films from the internet and who are dependant on purchasing DVD’s in order to watch their favourite Israeli movies.

About the Author
Yonatan Michael Curry is retired Canadian Public servant who has been a frequent traveler to Israel since 2003. With an interest in daily life and its associated values he brings a fresh, observant and unbiased view on various aspects of Israeli daily life. And not without a bit of humour. Though he has never rented a car while there Yonatan has travelled the length and breadth of Israel.