Saturday, September 26, 2009

'Schizoid' Zion is fodder for Keret's edgy stories and films

Etgar Keret, the Israeli writer and filmmaker behind the claymation flick $9.99, can't help point out the paradoxes of his country.

Over breakfast at a cafe on Dizengoff Street, a leafy avenue in central Tel Aviv, Keret tells journalist Jason Koutsoukis

"It's about my dentist. For 340 days of the year he is a tofu-eating vegetarian who drives a hybrid car and takes care of people's teeth. The other 25 days of the year, he kills people."

Keret's dentist is a sniper in the Israeli army, and, like most Israeli men, he is called up once a year for active reserve duty.

"He has six confirmed kills to his name," says Keret. "He hates it, but this is such an Israeli thing. To be caught between the perfect left-wing, secular lifestyle on one side, and our very aggressive, militaristic culture on the other."

Keret points to the patrons sitting around us.

"It's not so peculiar here that people know someone who has been killed violently, or who have killed someone themselves.

''Yet we have one of the best operas in the world and 30 per cent of Israelis are art-loving theatregoers. This is a schizophrenic country."

Israel, Keret claims, has the same logic as a reality show, with people from different backgrounds and nationalities jammed together in a tiny slice of territory in a situation of extreme danger with everything to gain and everything to lose.

"It's a difficult place to live," admits Keret, smiling broadly, "but such a great place to write about."

Hat tip to the Brisbane Times for this profile of an outspoken filmmaker and writer.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dealing with the Lobby and staying on message

Hat tip to activist Angela Godfrey-Goldstein for these two evergreen Latuff cartoons, as relevant as ever.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Israeli film takes the Golden Lion prize at Venice

Just as the Katyushas start to fly again from the neighbor to the north, an Israeli film called "Lebanon" gains international recognition. Like 'Waltz for Bashir,' this examines the 1982 conflict, not the more recent fighting by the sons of the fighters shown here. Director Samuel Maoz shoots almost entirely inside an Israeli tank against the backdrop of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The trailer of the film can be seen here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Shock Schlock - Unholy Madonnas in Suicide Vests shut down in Tel Aviv by censors

Sophisticated gallery goers in Tel Aviv were offended by the latest shock schlock exhibit, showing sweet-faced Christian saints who, on second glance, must be strapped for oblivion under their garb, in spite of their halos. Still feels a tad raw after the bloody excesses of Intifada. The Independent's Lynfield reports about the latest on the cultural scene in the Big Falafel, the explosive mix of art and politics, after that other Madonna, aka Esther, just flounced through the Holy Land her red kabbala string (bikini). The story was first broken by Ynet news.

Galina Bleich, one of the artists, said the works were meant to show the horror of women carrying out suicide bombings. "A child in the hands of Madonna is in danger, that's what should concern people. This is not only an Israeli problem, but a worldwide problem, and that is why we chose Madonna, a Christian symbol," she told Israel's Y-net news service.

Bleich said she had the idea for the exhibit after finding herself at the scene of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. "From then I haven't stopped thinking about it... We are trying to ask how a woman who is intended to love and give birth turned into a source of hatred and murder."