Movies are often a great way to grasp the culture code and views of a Nation, and Israeli films are no exception. Most of the Israeli film industry however has a strong political Left bias, and so too many times the movie ends up being a political manifest. Political opinions are welcomed, but they should be diverse. In any case, most of the better Israeli movies are comedies, and so below is our recommendation fo the 10 Israeli movies:
Salach Shabati (1964)
A brilliant classic drama comedy following the gaps and tension between the Israeli Ashkenazi Jews and the new Jewish immigrants from Muslim countries. Among the first successful Israeli movies, and somehow relevant to this day. Written and directed by renowned satire writer Ephraim Kishon.
“Metzizim” (Pipping Toms) (1972)
A script with no real development, reflecting the meaningless life of two eccentric aging hippies, one operating a life-guard station at a beach in Tel-Aviv, and the other dreaming of opening a night club. A truly silly comedy, that is too often offensive at women, yet considered to be Israel’s first cult movie.
Givat Halfon is not responding (1976)
The first attempt of the Israeli film industry to confront the Yom Kippur war in 1973, this classic comedy directed by son of a general follows several Israelis on reserve duty at an IDF outpost near the Suez Canal. Satirical and entertaining, performed by the top actors and comedians of the time.
Alex is Lovesick (1986)
About to be Bar-Mitzvah, Alex, a member of a Jewish Polish family who recently immigrated to Tel-Aviv, unfolds the challenging economical and social life in the new-born state of Israel in the 1950’s.
Operation Grandma (1999)
A cult short movie presenting the challenge of three brothers from a small kibbutz in southern Israel to arrange a funeral for their grandma Hayah who passed away. Only in Israel a funeral can be scripted into a hilarious comedy!
Walk on Water (2004)
An Israeli secret service agent is assigned to track and assassinate an ex-Nazi officer by being a tour guide to his grandson who comes to visit Israel. The plot takes place during the second Intifada and includes some great photogenic spots in Israel.
Zero Motivation (2014)
An hilarious semi realistic comedy of a female soldier stationed in a remote army base, bored to despair by mundane office tasks in an apathic army environment, yet becoming surprisingly motivated when a new handsome soldier arrives.. A hit at the box office, and a guarantee to generate quite a few good laughs!
A well scripted fictitious film written and directed by Yosef Cedar, entailing the complex father-son relationship between two Israeli Talmud scholars at the Hebrew University, whose nomination for the Israeli prize errs colossally. A special treat for any Israeli who even studied humanities at that institution..
My favorite quote: “your essay is good and original. The problem is that what is original is not good, and what is good is not original”
A classic army movie documenting an IDF combat unit outposted in a Crusader era fort in southern Lebanon, months before Israel’ withdrawal from the area in 2000. Gloomy and gritty, the movie captures intensity of Israeli military service in combat units.
When Heroes fly (2018)
An exceptional Netflix style action TV series airing in 2018 presenting the reuniting of four Israeli military veterans, rejoining to a rescue operation in Columbia a loved one presumed to be dead. A good combination of action and Israeli military humor, and the first appearance on screen of the popular singer Ninet Tayeb.
Another Netflix style action thriller, this one devoted to the undercover Israeli Secret service in the Palestinian West Bank in fighting terrorism.
The Simpsons coming to Israel (2010)
Ok, not really a movie, but still a must to watch before or after a visit to Israel. Sasha Baron Cohen plays the voice of the fat tour guide Jacob, and Homer ends up creating a new religion he calls “Peace and chicken”.