Jewish Film 101

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Israeli Film

The first movie filmed in the land of Israel was one of the first motion pictures ever made: Train Station in Jerusalem was filmed in 1896, when the land was under Ottoman control. Nearly 40 years later, the first feature-length Hebrew film, Oded the Wanderer, was released. Like most films that would be made during that time, the film focused on the land and the Zionist endeavor. In the early years of statehood, the heroics of Israeli pioneers and the army also figured prominently in film.

Starting in the 1960s, Israeli cinema began to branch out more, with increasing numbers of comedies and farces produced. Politics and conflict were--and remain--a constant presence in Israeli films, though in recent years many films have challenged Israeli policy and the standard Zionist narration of Israeli history. As Israeli society deals with the conflict with the Palestinians, the place of Arabs in Israeli society, and intra-Jewish ethnic tensions, Israeli filmmakers have presented these themes on the big screen.

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