A glowing 2014 for the Israeli film industry
by Daniel Litani
- The sector saw some extremely impressive results last year and is hoping for a repeat performance in 2015
The Israeli film industry can relax for a few moments as it looks back on 2014 as the best year ever for the sector. The 1.6 million tickets sold over the year are proof that Israeli audiences truly put their trust in the country’s films. The figures have come at a time when the industry is struggling to consolidate its record-breaking performance in the hopes that this success will not remain a one-off.
The main reason for this spectacular performance is the fact that the industry proved that it could produce films of the highest quality, featuring subject matter that managed to create a big enough buzz to shift huge numbers of tickets.
Zero Motivation was the leading Israeli film, approaching 590,000 admissions, but in fact, seven films sold more than 100,000 each. Talya Lavie, the director of the movie, explains the success experienced by the film: “First, it has a great cast, and the audience was very much engaged with the characters. Also, I think that the film is very authentic, and people in Israel felt that it was made for them, and not in order to ‘please’ foreign eyes. We have quite a tradition of army films in Israel, but not so much about those pencil pushers, so the film was significant for people who felt that they saw their own reflection on the big screen. I'm happy that so many people could identify with the film, and found it funny and sad at the same time.”
While in past years the themes of Israeli films were of a serious nature and often focused on topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 2014 turned out to be the “year of the comedy”. In addition to Zero Motivation, three other hit films were comedies: Hill Start, Kicking Out Shoshana and The Farewell Party [+see also:
interview: Tal Granit & Sharon Maymon
film profile]. This goes to show that laughter may well be the best remedy to the pressures of war that Israeli audiences have been going through.
The successful year also emphasises the growing role of Israeli women on the local scene. In the past, there have been very few female directors and producers getting themselves noticed within the Israeli film industry; however, Zero Motivation, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem [+see also:
film profile], The Farewell Party and Orange People were all directed by women, and also had very impressive runs at the international film festivals.
Traditionally, when olive growers in Israel have a good harvest, the following year’s yield falls significantly. However, the film industry in Israel is hoping that 2015 will be just as impressive as 2014 was, but it also understands the complexity of this fragile sector and can only hope for the best.