Sunday, November 2, 2014

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: On the Left

I’m delighted to be returning for the fourth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 8th Annual Other Israel Film Festival will take place November 6th-13th, 2014.

On the Left
Directed by Ron Cahlili
Screening November 9 at 5pm and November 11 at 6:30pm

This hourlong presentation, which is part of a larger series, is among the most scathing and incisive of this year’s festival crop. Its title refers to the Israeli left, described in the film’s summary as Zionist and non-Zionist, Marxist and non-Marxist, and tackles the notion of what being a leftist in Israel actually means. It traces Israeli’s roots and the position of its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, evolving from what seemed to be its initial principles into something wholly different. This documentary paints an oppressive picture of Israeli culture grown out of conflicting senses of what ideals the new nation should strive for, criticizing Israel and its government as trying to appear like something it’s not. There is certainly plenty of surprising history here, but this doesn’t do nearly as good a job as many of the other films presented at the festival this year at looking at the bigger picture from a positive perspective. That’s not its goal, of course, but it seems to come from such a decided slant that it can’t hope to be as objective as it wants to be.

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