Independence Day: Classic Israeli films, TV series for the holiday

For more information and to order tickets, go to

AVI NESHER’S debut film, ‘The Troupe (Halahaka)’ from 1978. (photo credit: YONI HAMENACHEM)
AVI NESHER’S debut film, ‘The Troupe (Halahaka)’ from 1978.
(photo credit: YONI HAMENACHEM)
 Independence Day is a great time for celebrating Israeli cinema and television, and you can enjoy classic Israeli entertainment this year on both networks and digital platforms.
The Israel Film Archive (IFA) at the Jerusalem Cinematheque is offering screenings of classic films as it opens a special collection of Israeli cinema on its digital platform.
On Independence Day, one of the films that will be screened is Uri Zohar’s screen adaptation of A. B. Yehoshua’s acclaimed novella Three Days and a Child, a movie whose star, Oded Kotler, won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1968 for his portrayal of a lovelorn graduate student, and the film is one of the highlights of ’60s Israeli cinema.
The movie The Band’s Visit by Eran Kolirin, the story of a Egyptian musicians stranded in a Negev town overnight starring Ronit Elkabetz and Sasson Gabay, which became an unlikely Tony-award winning Broadway hit, will also be shown, and will be preceded by a conversation with the irreverent journalist Amir Kaminer, who is always a lot of fun.
The IFA digital platform will also feature films by Michal Bat-Adam, the actress/director who is the winner of this year’s Israel Prize for film. For more information and to order tickets, go to
Just in time for Independence Day, Keshet Broadcasting (Channel 12) has kicked off its new series, a television adaptation of The Women’s Balcony.
That 2016 film looked at the lives of the members of a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Bukharan Quarter and a crisis that took place when the women’s balcony collapsed and a young, charismatic rabbi convinced the male congregants to rebuild the place with no space for women. The women, used to obeying male authorities, rebelled.
The film, which was based in part on screenwriter Shlomit Nehama’s memories of growing up in this community, was an unexpected worldwide hit.
The new series brings back many of the popular stars, including Evelin Hagoel, Orna Banai, Itzhik Cohen and Yafit Asulin, but several new characters have been added, including one played by Tsahi Halevi, a real-estate tycoon living in the US who grew up in the neighborhood and comes back, hoping to pick up where he left off with an old flame.
The series captures the sweetness of the film, and with all the characters, it works well as episodic television.
Cellcom TV is presenting a selection of Israeli classics to celebrate Independence Day. These include such quintessentially Israeli films as Avi Nesher’s debut film, The Troupe (Halahaka), from 1978, the story of the turbulent and comic romances and rivalries of an IDF entertainment troupe. This is the movie that Israeli families are most likely to tune in to on Independence Day, much as Americans watch It’s a Wonderful Life every year during the Christmas season.
His second film, Dizengoff 99, about young people at a Tel Aviv advertising agency, is also among the Cellcom films being shown, but before you watch this one with your family, be warned that it contains one of the most erotic scenes in the history of Israeli cinema.
Other offerings on Independence Day include Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation, a very funny, very inventive look at bored female soldiers that was the surprise winner of the international competition at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. It propelled Lavie to the top ranks of Israeli filmmakers, and her latest film, Honeymood, another dark comedy, this time about a newlywed couple in Jerusalem, is one of several much-anticipated Israeli films that will be released throughout the country as soon as theaters go back to normal.
HOT is featuring a program billed as Blue-White Hollywood films on Independence Day. If you’re thinking, that means Wonder Woman, you are right. It is being shown on April 15 at 2:30 p.m. on HOT Cinema 1. At 10 p.m. on the same day, you can see another Gal Gadot Hollywood film, Criminal, a suspense thriller directed by an Israeli who works in Hollywood, Ariel Vromen.
HOT also has a program of popular Israeli series, including the second season of Very Important Person, in which heartthrob Yehuda Levi spoofs himself and his fame.
YesDocu is featuring Susita (aka Desert Tested), a documentary about the ill-fated Israeli car (see separate article). The Israeli Channel on Yes is featuring an Israeli-Austrian comedy-drama, Baumschlager (Mivtza Schlager in Hebrew), about an Austrian UN officer on the Israeli-Lebanese border who gets into some romantic entanglements that end up causing international conflicts. Moran Rosenblatt, Meyrav Feldman (Nevsu), Itzik Cohen, Kobi Farag, Sharon Alexander and Norman Issa are among the Israeli actors in the cast.
If you want to go the Netflix-and-chill routine after your barbecue, there are an enormous number of blue-and-white options, such as Shtisel and Fauda.
Given that it is the 60th anniversary of the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann, you might want to watch Operation Finale, the story of Eichmann’s capture, with Ben Kingsley as the architect of the “Final Solution” and Oscar Isaac as a Mossad agent leading the team that apprehends him.