TZIVI’S GUIDE TO THE 2007 CFIC
(CHICAGO FESTIVAL OF ISRAELI CINEMA)
“One needs courage in order to say ‘We also have problems at home,’ but without courage there is no real art.” So said screenwriter Hanna Azulay Hasfari about her 1994 film Shchur (widely credited as the first “important” film about Mizrachi family life in Israel). Jewish-Americans already know that Israelis have tremendous physical courage, but every new batch of films brings fresh evidence of artistic courage as well. The eighteen films on this year’s Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema schedule run the gamut. I found some excellent and others less so, but all were interesting and worthwhile.
Keep in mind as you watch that many of these films had their first public screenings at the 2006 Jerusalem Film Festival last July, just at the point at which Israel’s border with Lebanon was erupting into flames. So these “pre-war” films all depict internal conflict: souls in torment; families in crisis. Maybe next year we’ll get some comedies, and sometime after that some films about Lebanon, but this year’s schedule deals with addiction (Salt of the Earth), betrayal (Aviva My Love and Miracle), drug abuse (Someone To Run With), homosexuality (Paper Dolls and Things Behind the Sun), mental illness (Sweet Mud), and the painful consequences of failures to communicate (Pesya’s Necklace, Sisai, Three Mothers and Tied Hands). It takes courage to make them and determination to watch them. Maybe some of us would like to see less challenging images of Israeli life, but if our most fervent wish is for Israel to be a “normal” country, then we can’t sit in Chicago and close our eyes to the reality. Chicago’s annual Festival of Israeli Cinema gives many of us our best chance each year to learn more about Israel, so let’s all go and make our support count.