NON-REFERENCING IN MIDDLE EASTERN FILMMAKING FOCUSING ON ISRAEL
by YEHONATAN ZURIA
uite a few of the most popular scenes in the cinema are a quote. Not in the sense of "becoming a classic quotation" - in the sense of "it is a quotation or a reference to something else." The end of the "good company"? Stolen from the "Great Railway". Jennifer Connelly in a bath in Requiem for a Dream? In general from "perfect blue". The falling baby carriage also appears in the "unbiased" and "Potimkin battleship", "doing the right thing" updating the "hunt" tattoos to cool jewels, the "phantom carriage" is quoted both in "The Spark" and "The Seventh Seal" "And let's not start talking about Tarantino who did everything by mentioning the names of old movies, doing homage to scenes, imitating and stealing in the full sense of the word.
It is not the accusation of the medium or the fans of lack of originality. On the contrary. Part of the magic of cinema is the love of its filmmakers, and the way they try to get it into their films. Homages, references, references, imitations - cinema was not what it is today without this important element. This is also why there is something so satisfying about being a movie lover - you can actually feel the love of your favorite directors for a medium, and often watching a movie feels like you and your favorite director are shouting to each other "This movie is really cool!".
It is therefore worth asking why all this good has passed over Israeli cinema. Not the actors, of course - there are quite a few filmmakers in Israeli films. In an average Israeli film, you are more likely to see the director referring to American hits, European classics, or genre films from all over the world before he mentions "Siege," "Light from the Loose," or "El Dorado."
And although it is possible to fill out a whole seminar on "What are the problems of Israeli cinema," many of them (in a nutshell - budget matters, funds that can turn into a closed members club, a minority in the genre cinema, a minority in representations) - This issue does not really come up.
But before we begin to analyze Israeli cinema, let's talk a bit about rapists and why they are good.
As I wrote earlier, references to cinema can come in many forms. In the past, it was mainly homage or theft. Or you could steal a movie plot, change enough things to avoid a lawsuit and get out of the story, or you could use certain motifs from old movies in a new movie (for example, Charlton Heston's dress from the Inca Secret, ). While theft was definitely more than laziness, homage was a way for the director to show love and respect for sources. There is no explicit possibility to put a bibliography at the end of the film, but the director (or screenwriter, the costume designer, the editor) or any other person in the film) marks the films that influenced him so much that he wants to use them again. For the skilled observer, it was an opportunity to see scenes he liked in a surprising new context. This unskilled viewer has had the opportunity to enjoy sources of inspiration that he had no way of discovering. Today, every movie comes with a list of trivia and the repertoire and homage in the film can literally become the watch list of a viewer who is impressed by the film and wants to understand its sources of inspiration.
But even those lists had become unnecessary. Beginning in the nineties, a new player - the direct match - took to the homage court. His lead was Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, and suddenly it became perfectly reasonable in films (including blockbusters) to name the names of other films within the film itself. The match is the lazy brother of the homage, for better or for worse. For the best - because it gives the laymen a list of recommendations that are easier to remember and find. "It's a much easier way to get viewers to film that has influenced you than to hope that one of them will read that your film is affected by something. For the worse, because it is a reference that tends to be worthless calorie - in the best case the reverberated film gets an in-depth analysis (like the "sellers only") characterizes the obsession of the characters as an important element in the film and the characters - but this is a rare case. For the most part, this is an inexpensive way to do Nymedroping. The goal is still the same goal (show appreciation for the film), but it has become cheaper. The move also turned it from a visual medium of directors to screenwriters.
An interesting place to compare gestures is in parody films - a common complaint about modern parody films versus those of the past is exactly the difference between reverting (say "it's like in the eighth!" And watch that we laughed because we mentioned a movie) and a homage Her on her head - like the monk scene in "Frankstein" versus "Young Frankstein").
In general, parodies and gestures play a very important role in the role of cultural preservation and film recommendations. Many people who know classic scenes from the cinema thanks to their parodies in sitcoms and series skits and not from the movies themselves. Although the parodies occasionally laughed at the films, but the fact that these films "won" the parody raised them to the level that points to them as important films to be consumed to understand the joke. After all, if someone went and invested and made a parody of "Robin Hood," it seems that Robin Hood as a myth has some importance to know.
All these ways - the parody, the homage and the reverberation are not only ways in which cinema speaks to itself but also a way in which the cinema builds its own myth. In order to understand what is happening in "The Revenge: The War of Infinity" we need not only to know the previous films in the series, but also to know the names of the films that the film mentions verbally (such as "Alien Return") or in a gesture Not a movie but a series, but the point is the same point). And in order to get to know these films (and series), you have to know what they did to him homage back then back and forth until you reach surprising sources of inspiration, which make it possible to build a great watch list. All of this adds to the fact that no film really stands on its own - all of the cinema is connected to one another in ways and ways that can not be dismantled. This chain reinforces both the new vertebrae that hang in the films of the past, and the old vertebrae, which receive new validation for their vitality today.
And where does all this meet Israeli cinema? If, for example, you are watching "Unofficial", one of the great Israeli hits of 2018, you can see references to "Music Madness," and possibly to "Pulp Fiction," but despite the accusation that the film is actually a "bourekas film," you will not find references To the early films of Boaz Davidson, Moshe Mizrahi or Nissim Dayan - although it is easy to find a link between their films and a hit by Eliran Malka.
An attempt to find references to classics such as "The Troupe," "The Policeman Azulai," "The Balomich Canal," "Snooker Celebration," and, in the best case, will produce one result. So if you answer the question from the beginning of the previous paragraph, the answer is that it is not. The whole thing about the repertoire just does not meet Israeli cinema.
I will divide the discussion further into two: the reasons for this (which will of course be speculation) and the effect that this has on cinema.
Let's begin with the influences - the fact that Israeli cinema suffers from a lack of match is a problem. As I said, references build a myth of cinema, and a cinema that denies its past, if one can borrow a quote, its present is poor and its future is uncertain.
After all, we were supposed to be in Israel during the Renaissance period when it came to cinema. "Late Marriage" broke through the doors, and the cinema of the 21st century provided enough hits - Waltz with Bashir, which played with the boundaries of the genres, "The Band's Visit", which became a winning musical on Broadway, "Zero in Human Relations" And even "Who is afraid of the bad wolf" who received praises and praises from Quentin Tarantino himself.
Still, the feeling is the opposite. The feeling is that despite all these achievements, Israeli cinema stands still. Hits can come out, but as a cinema with momentum, direction or way - there is none. Every time an Israeli horror film comes out there is a feeling that this is the first time it has happened, even though there have been quite a few such horror films in the last decade and before. There are many good and talented artists in this country, but they do not want to be connected together as part of a tradition. Instead of hanging on tall trees from the previous decades, and instead of pointing to a contemporary filmmaker and saying that they want to be like him, everyone wants to be special, original and groundbreaking. Or maybe just American.
But if the cinema we love is always primal and groundbreaking, it eliminates the need for what was before it. In the second filmmakers are not looking for their traditions and sources in the cinema that was before them, they claim that it is not useful - especially if they choose instead to import traditions and styles of other cinema.
In return for selling the past, the filmmakers receive the humor and the criticism and the contempt of "I did it first, I break through, I did not see anything like me." And beyond the question of whether this is true (and usually not), it is a bad barter. Because after the year you see your film, like the previous ones that ignore them, you get a cultural edge from the cinema and it is forgotten behind.
Because if cinema is an art that sticks to its love for a different cinema, then watching Israeli cinema gives the impression that Israeli cinema simply does not like Israeli cinema. And it's not that there's nothing to work with - Israeli cinema has both familiar and hidden pearls, but it seems as though Israeli cinema itself refuses to give them recognition and validity.
The cliche that says that Israeli cinema is aimed at festivals - that is, outside - occupies a larger volume here. Instead of creating a unique language that communicates with itself and develops, Israeli cinema uses a universal language and draws from the world cinema to tell its stories. But world cinema does not give him a favor, because there are just too many movies in the international database.
Another problem of the lack of communication between the films is that the film itself has become almost a-morphic. If there are films of French, Indian, British, Korean or American style, there is no such thing as "Israeli film style."
And the problem is that when the cinema is not willing to define itself, viewers will do it for him. And so instead of receiving a degree of honor, viewers see, in a very general generalization, the two words "Israeli cinema" as a derogatory term. Even viewers who go to see three Israeli films in a given year, and that our films will say that they enjoyed it because of Noo, the films "were not Israeli cinema."
So what is "Israeli cinema" according to the complainants? Not a neo-hyper or sub-realistic movement and not extreme in its violence like South Korean cinema and does not mention indie cinema in an attempt to find grace and cheerfulness in difficult moments. But mainly oppressive cinema where everyone is always dissatisfied and is frequently engaged in family, army, LGBT or all together and includes a lot of nudity.
Not that all the problems will be solved once Israeli films begin to throw in support for other Israeli films - but it will be a significant step in creating a meaningful brotherhood. (As it was between Sam Raimi and Waus Craven), or even a discussion about Israeli cinema within the cinema can contribute so much to strengthening The cinema is more than any cinema law, a laudatory critique, Percy Ophir and even an Oscar - because it can create an ethos for Israeli cinema. An ethos that is currently scattered and dismantled, which some critics, lecturers and writers are trying to keep alive by constantly writing about Israeli cinema (Pablo Utin and Yair Raveh as the most prominent examples) - but they can not bear this burden alone.
If the cinema goes on like this, then it just goes on like this. 18 years after the breakthrough of "Late Marriage," 10 years after Waltz with Bashir, four years after the trio of "Good Death" - "Zero in Human Relations" - "Get," and still the feeling that the cinema is moving forward. I know that "if something does not happen, then we will continue in the current situation." This is not the most frightening fear prophecy, but the question that creators have to ask themselves is whether they want their work to be part of something bigger or not. Because instead of starting from scratch at any time, it may be easier to use the resources already in our country, and to build from the old films a visual, conceptual and thematic language that other countries can not offer.
But why did we come here in the first place? It's not a question of throwing responsibility - if we want to change our ways of thinking, we have to understand what motivated them.
The easiest culprits are the film schools - but as someone who did not study in them, I do not feel comfortable talking about them. A short clarification shows that Israeli cinema is taught, and some of the lecturers even include it in courses that do not focus exclusively on Israeli cinema. Nevertheless, it is rare to find Israeli films every year. The schools could be blamed for the fact that if the place where film is taught does not think that Israeli cinema compares to the classics outside it, then what other creators will do, but since, as noted, this is an issue that needs clarification. Let's leave this as a speculation.Other problems are two Israeli passions: being provincial and applauding someone else's work - which Israeli filmmakers enjoy avoiding the latter. There are good reasons for dissatisfaction: in a small, small industry, being a coworker can be considered insulting to another colleague and sitting in a jury where a film festival is often an opportunity to get into trouble and black lists. In an industry where it is possible to quarrel very easily with very influential people, it is no wonder that creators prefer to say less and no more.
But this is an excuse - fear should not motivate people to take a step forward and promote culture and creativity, and especially to point out the direction they want our cinema to take. If everyone is too afraid to show through their creations that Israeli film influenced them, how will we create a myth of the cinema that is so necessary for its flowering?
And this can be oppressive for the film that is left out of the lines but it must be remembered that usually when a field goes up he takes everyone with him. And if someone becomes interested in certain parts of Israeli cinema because of films that praise someone who is not you at the moment, it is possible that they will find you later.
The second problem is to be perceived as "provincial." In a BBC survey that asked visitors about the best foreign films, 2 Israeli questions out of 7 Israeli visitors who participated in the list put Israeli films in their answers. For comparison: 4 out of 5 Japanese visitors chose Japanese movies (none of them in Kurosawa), 5 out of 6 French visitors chose French films, and only 2 out of 10 Indian visitors did not select an Indian film.
If you say that this is because the cinema of those countries is simply better, I will answer: Who determined? who said? Why do not we consider "Avanti Popolo" at the same level as "Panther Pachali"? And if we do not consider them at the same level - who is? The fear of support for our cinema and its push is depressing - if even when there are 10 selections for foreign films, they do not see fit to put one Israeli film - who is supposed to put them in our place? And, of course, there are problems in Israeli cinema - but there are problems in every film if you are looking for enough.
Perhaps the problem is at first - in Israeliness. After all, what is Zionism? Breaking the tradition. The Zionists and the pioneers dreamed of establishing something new and dancing about the blood of the broken tradition. Luckily for us, they did not succeed - but this idea on which the state was established, if I may go too far, also exists in Israeli cinema. The problem, of course, is whether the breaking of tradition comes from ignorance or from a familiarity with the past. Because when Bialik closes accounts with the tradition of his father's house, he knows what he's talking about. On the other hand, when Israeli directors do it, it feels less like that.
The commemoration of Israeli cinema is a task that should be the primary concern of every film lover in Israel. Transforming Israeli cinema into a cohesive ethos and a living myth that connects with itself will increase the love for cinema and advance cinema in directions that have hitherto been avoided. Creators, Visitors, and Authors - Please: Watch Israeli films. Look at old Israeli films. Do not be afraid to please your colleagues. Do not be afraid to quote them. Do not be afraid to get excited and get out of the way with visitors from abroad, break the paradigm in our mind that a foreign cinema is a better automatic cinema, create a list of the 10 best Israeli films and make your friends see it, Avanti Popolo, Manpower, James' Journeys in the Holy Land, and other less well-known films, write in the newspapers, on Facebook, in messages, do not be afraid and do not feel sorry for Israeli cinema. A cinema that needs help, and not as a bone throwing to friends and acquaintances - but because it is simply a wonderful cinema that comes to the world to hear To discover the pearls in it, and if many viewers come, and together we will create an Israeli cinema canon, myth, ethos and all our dreams.