That Israeli cinema has grown, in the last ten years or so, into a confident industry capable of producing world-class films is hardly news. With habitual trips to the Oscars—and no less than two documentaries nominated this year alone—we’re long past the days that film festivals had to struggle to scrap together content good enough to screen. Now, it seems, Israeli film has the opposite problem: it’s become so mainstream that confining it to a single festival runs the risk of cramming it back into the celluloid ghetto of the past.
To avoid this risk, and to give Israeli cinema a platform worthy of its ascending stature, the Israel Film Center at The JCC in Manhattan will debut the Israel Film Center Festival this week, showcasing some of the best new works Israel has to offer, as well as a slew of ignored recent hits. Playing in theaters across New York from April 11th to the 18th, the new festival will premiere Shemi Zarhin’s The World Is Funny, a huge hit in Israel last year, as well as the premiere of Yariv Horowitz’s First Intifada drama, Rock the Casbah, the winner of a major award at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. Less recent entries include the hilariously morbid Dr. Pomerantz, directed by and starring Assi Dayan as a depressed therapist who rents out his balcony to suicidal patients. Check these masterworks, and others, out; it’s not like there’s anything better playing anyway.