Poking Fun, Israeli Style

Spoof: From left to right: Lana Ettinger, Ilan Dar and Ron Shahar star in ‘Israeli Intelligence,’ a 40-minute Israeli comedy that has acquired a cult following.
TOM RIMON
Spoof: From left to right: Lana Ettinger, Ilan Dar and Ron Shahar star in ‘Israeli Intelligence,’ a 40-minute Israeli comedy that has acquired a cult following.

By Nicola Behrman

Published June 30, 2010, issue of July 09, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When the world is going to proverbial poop, what do you do? Turn to self-parody, of course.

Every night, before the screening of the film “Israeli Intelligence” at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, there is an official ceremony. A national anthem, perhaps? No. A prayer for peace in the Middle East? Nein. During the prescreening ceremony, audience members are invited to declare how many times they have seen the movie. But “not on TV,” Alon Gur Arye, the film’s director, cries from the stage. “Only in the movie theater.”

The winner that night: a young gentleman who has seen the film 19 times. The crowd cheers. “Why are you encouraging him?” the director asks. And then he hands over his prize — tickets to see the show the following Friday night.

The crowd is encouraging him because this little 40-minute movie-spoof-that-could, which pokes fun at the Mossad and American cinema clichés, has become an Israeli cult classic.

Premiering at the Jerusalem International Film Festival in the drama section (because there is no comedy category), the film was supposed to screen for four weeks at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. But tickets sold out, fans came back, and after a year and a half, when it seemed like the film may be taken off the screen, audience members mounted a petition to keep it going. They succeeded. It has now been playing on a regular basis for three years.

Produced independently while the director was at film school, the movie took four years to make, with the help of 200 volunteers. “Our goal was to make a pilot for a feature film that fits the ‘Naked Gun’ type parody genre that we love,” Gur Arye said.

In the Hebrew-language, English-subtitled film, a hunky rogue Mossad agent is given a super-duper tricky mission and, of course, a beautiful sidekick. Their task is to rescue the abducted American ambassador, who is being held hostage in the fictional state of Sugyra. If they fail, disaster: The annual work holiday trip to camp Olga will be canceled.

Indeed, it is a truly silly Israeli movie. And it’s about to unleash its humor on American soil when it screens at the Action on Film Festival in Los Angeles in July. Given the suggested boycott of Israeli films at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the heightened tension on all sides surrounding the flotilla fiasco, does Gur Arye have any second thoughts about bringing the film to the United States? “There is no connection between the current events and the movie, but in general, I think in times like these, comedies can lighten things up a bit.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.