“Zero Motivation,” which won the best narrative feature award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, is an IDF version of “M* A* S* H.” Apparently, not everyone in the Israeli military is a gung-ho paratrooper. They also serve who push pencils around in boring circles.
In this film, two women stationed at a military base are in danger of dying — of boredom. They work in the personnel office and spend their days playing computer games and occasionally teaching a newcomer how to shred papers.
The movie, which opens in New York December 3, is hilarious and also a bit worrisome. It is also just one in a long line of films centered on the IDF. Here are 7 more all Israeli film buffs will want to see.
1. Beaufort (Joseph Cedar, 2007)
This critically acclaimed film is about an IDF unit stationed at Beaufort, a Crusader fort in southern Lebanon around the time of the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. A coming-of-age story, the movie shows the absurdities of war through the eyes of the young men fighting it.
2. Jenin, Jenin (Mohammed Bakri, 2002)
A documentary by Israeli-Arab citizen Mohammed Bakri about a portion of Operation Defensive Shield in which the IDF invaded the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp, “Jenin, Jenin” is made up of interviews with camp inhabitants and suggests that a massacre took place. In fact, Human Rights Watch found that less than 60 Arabs were killed — and half of those were armed combatants.
3. The Road to Jenin (Pierre Rehov, 2003)
A counterpoint to “Jenin, Jenin,” this documentary by Pierre Rehov, a French-Algerian Jew, documents the events leading up to Operation Defensive Shield, including the Passover Massacre, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 injured by a terrorist bomb.
4. Waltz With Bashir (Aril Folman, 2008)
This animated war documentary and Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film documents filmmaker Ari Folman’s memories of his experiences in the 1982 Lebanon War.
5. Yossi & Jagger (Etan Fox, 2002)
Yossi, the commander of a company of soldiers near Lebanon, is in a secret relationship with his second-in-command, nicknamed Jagger after the rock star.
6. Lebanon (Samuel Maoz, 2009)
This controversial and award-winning film offers a view of the 1982 Lebanon war as seen from the inside of a tank. It includes orders from higher-ups to use phosphorous grenades, which are banned by international treaty.
7. Cast A Giant Shadow (Melville Shavelson, 1966)
Perhaps the most famous American film about the Israeli military (pre-IDF), it details the life of David (Mickey) Marcus, played by Kirk Douglas. Marcus, a West Point graduate — he is buried at the Military Academy — was mistakenly shot by an Israeli sentry who did not speak English and was the last casualty before a UN-imposed cease fire. Yul Brenner, Frank Sinatra and John Wayne also appear in the film.