Looking for a little Israeli culture but don’t want to leave your house? Well, how about streaming an award-winning Israeli movie with your choice of snack: popcorn or bamba (Israel’s snack of choice, peanut-butter puffed goodness). Make it the ultimate movie night with one of the Israeli classics like “Sallah Shabati” or even a film in movie theaters right now.
Late last month, the Israel Film Center at the JCC in Manhattan launched the first major film streaming website dedicated solely to Israeli films. The site will offer dozens of Israeli classics as well as fresh and original films coming out of Israel’s booming movie industry today. The site will also host the hard-to-find award-winning documentaries that until now were not fully available to American viewers.
“Israeli films have been exploding in the international scene. There is not a major Film Festival in the world that does not include a few Israeli films,” Isaac Zablocki, director of film programs and the Israel Film Center explains. “Very few of these films get any kind of American release, and most of the wonderful Israeli films do not get screened in the U.S. at all (beyond some festivals).”
The IFC is focused on connecting the American public with Israeli films through their streaming website initiative. The center has already created the largest online database for Israel Films and a library where patrons can view an archive of Israeli films. The streaming website, center officials say, was a natural next step as people have become accustomed to video viewing websites like Netflix. Distributors too, were excited to take the next step and gave the center the rights to some of the best Israeli films.
The website (www.israelfilmcenter.org/stream), which officially launched on Aug. 20, will offer year-round promotions and special thematic programs, and will continue to offer films at a low price since the organization functions as a nonprofit. Currently you can purchase the critically acclaimed film “The Matchmaker,” which is playing in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Other films to be featured on the website include “Time of Favor” and “Beaufort,” by Joseph Cedar, a two-time Academy Award-nominee and winner of five Israeli Film Academy Awards; Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Film (2009) “Ajami”; “My Father My Lord” (Tribeca Film Festival Best Film); Israel’s top-grossing film, “This is Sodom (Zohi Sdom)”; and “Turn Left at the End of the World.”
The center is already looking forward to its next venture — adding Israeli TV shows to the stream.