Coming up on the small screen

Jihad’s beginnings, ‘Mad Max’ returns, and Pixar for grown-ups.

Mad Max: Fury Road  (photo credit: PR)
Mad Max: Fury Road
(photo credit: PR)
We all spend a lot of time watching news reports on and reading about the threat of Daesh – or ISIS/ISIL – in countries not too far from here. But how much do most of us know about how it started and how it is different from other terrorist groups? A fascinating new four-hour series on Channel 1, starting on March 8 at 9 p.m., Jihad Now, looks into how ISIS became the most powerful terrorist group of our time.
Directed by Anna Somershaf and Henrique Cymerman, the series was produced by Gidi Avivi and has original research by Aviv Oreg. Jihad Now is in Hebrew, English and Arabic with Hebrew subtitles. It features a diverse group of experts who speak about the origin of the group, going back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, which mobilized global support among Muslims to defend the country. It may seem ironic now, but the Cold War was still in full swing and the US came out firmly in support of the Afghans, happy to see that the Soviets were now mired in a conflict that would drag them down, in what American officials saw as the Soviets’ version of the Vietnam War.
Experts, including former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, as well as academics and intelligence officials, trace the history of ISIS. Perhaps the most surprising and fascinating of these is Sheikh Abdullah Anas, an Algerian scholar who, inspired by Palestinian cleric Abdullah Azzam’s call for Muslims to defend Afghanistan, joined that conflict and eventually married one of Azzam’s daughters. In spite of his past, Anas, who now lives in London, had no problem being interviewed for an Israeli documentary and offers firsthand reminiscences of the beginnings of global Jihad and of the young Osama bin Laden.
One striking fact that emerges from this series is the fact that so many important players — the CIA and the Mossad among them — took little notice at first of the group that eventually became ISIS. With 20/20 hindsight, that seems unfortunate. But as Alberto Fernandez – former coordinator for strategic counterterrorism communications (CSCC) at the US State Department – pointed out, when there are so many threats against you all the time, it can be hard to figure out which ones are credible.
The first episode stops just short of 2001, so there are still more twists to come.
Few would have predicted this year that the film Mad Max: Fury Road would take home six Oscars (albeit in the technical categories), while the odds-on favorite, The Revenant, would end up with only three. In any case, Mad Max: Fury Road is a reworking of the original Mad Max post-apocalyptic movies starring Mel Gibson. Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy, who, ironically, plays the villain in The Revenant. This new Mad Max has an amazing look and is a thrilling action movie, with a feminist theme.
Charlize Theron holds her own against the men as Imperator Furiosa, a solider who betrays the bad guy in order to free his five slave wives. It’s coming up on HOT Gold on March 18 at 10 p.m.
Inside Out, the Pixar Oscar winner for Best Animated Film, will be aired on HOT Gold on March 5 at 11 a.m.
The story of the different emotions inside a little girl’s head, this movie has a cerebral approach that is a bit different from the typical Pixar movie, which appealed to adults as well as children. It was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay, which is unusual for an animated film, although it didn’t win.
Regarding a date for the Israeli premiere of the British TV series The Night Manager, YES has confirmed that it will be coming up, probably in the summer. If that’s true, it will be a perfect summer escape, particularly since many scenes take place in the snowy Swiss Alps.