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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘film’

Iranians Citizens Increasingly Support Peace with Israel

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Contrary to mainstream media reports, momentum for peaceful relations with the State of Israel is building among the Iranian people.

“I think there are many Iranians who live for the day that Iran has diplomatic relations with Israel,” says Mahyar Shams Ahmadi, who was born in Tehran 28 years ago but now lives in Toronto. “In my view, if you just look at relations between Iran and Israel, it is clear that it is in fact the ruling regime in Iran that is preventing diplomatic relations.”

Ahmadi is inspired by the high-tech advances and Western-style democracy that Israeli society has achieved.  “Israel is already serving as a model for Iran, and other countries, on how to treat women and minorities,” he says. “Much like Canada, Israel does not oppress its citizens and allows them to think freely without fear of being persecuted no matter what your religion or beliefs are.”

Ahmadi criticizes Iranian leadership’s view of Israel as “little Satan” to the US’ “big Satan.” He says he is embarrassed and saddened that the present Iranian government remains opposed to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. “Even with a new president, it is evident that Iran’s government hasn’t changed at all, and it is no surprise that Iran still continues to fail to live up to their international obligations,” he said.

Other Iranians are a bit more optimistic. “I think that the prospect of Israeli-Iranian relations will look good within the near future, either through the collapse of the regime, or by reform of Iranian politics,” says Pedram, an Iranian presently living in Stockholm, Sweden. “The Iranian and Jewish people have thousands of years of cultural and historical connection with each other and it cannot be broken just because we have an oppressive regime at the moment. I can with strong confidence say that the overwhelming majority of Iranians, both inside and outside the country, strongly support not only peace with Israel but also better relations in general.”

Recently, Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf visited Israel as a guest of honor at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He received an award for his efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Iran and hosted a film screening of his recent film The Gardener, which was the first Iranian film to be filmed in Israel in decades. A number of his other films were also highlighted at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Crowds of Israelis honored him with standing ovations. Makhmalbaf was the first high-profile Iranian artist and former revolutionary to visit the Jewish state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

By defying the BDS Movement and pro-regime forces inside the Islamic Republic, who forced the Iranian Cinema Association to boycott Makhmalbaf’s films, the director risks a prison sentence if he returns to Iran.

Still, Makhmalbaf says he is  “proud to have paved the way for Iranian cinema in Israel. Boycotting and writing statements does not solve anything. It only leads to war. We have to get to know each other through art, literature, and cinema, so we can become friends and end the hostility. That’s the reason I filmed my latest movie ‘The Gardener’ in Israel.” And, he adds, he hopes that someday soon, Israeli filmmakers will be able to shoot films in Iran.

Remarkably, more than 80 Iranian scholars, opposition group members, and human rights activists openly declared their support of his decision to come to Israel.

Visit United with Israel.

Chinese Crew Begins Blockbuster Filming in Old City (Video)

Monday, June 24th, 2013

A Chinese film crew has begun filming what is supposed to a blockbuster movie of a romantic comedy in the Holy Land and which will expose Israel to the Chinese, to the delight of the Tourism Ministry and the tourist industry.

The ministry is investing more than $80,000 to help promote the film, with expectations that the exposure of Israel to Chinese movie-goers will attract them to visit.

The artists worked with the Ministry of Tourism to arrange the filming of the movie “Old Cinderella,” starring Zhang Jingchu. “It’s a great pleasure to be here in Jerusalem and in Israel,” the actress says. “It’s amazing.”

Approximately 15 minutes of the 95-minute film will be filmed in Israel.

In recent years, more and more foreign film companies are choosing Israeli settings for their works. Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other locales provide a dramatic and visually rich landscape for feature films.

Remembering Jackie Robinson’s Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Moviegoers heading to see the new film “42” will see the story of how Jackie Robinson displayed legendary courage, class and talent in the face of immense pressure and racial hatred as he broke down baseball’s color barrier.

Less well known is Robinson’s commitment to fighting all bigotry, including prejudice emanating from his own community.

It was 1962, a decade and a half after Robinson first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers and just a few years after he retired. Day after day, an angry crowd marched outside Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater protesting against its Jewish owner, Frank Schiffman, and his plan to open a low-cost restaurant with prices that potentially would threaten the business of a more expensive black-owned eatery.

The demonstrators carried anti-Semitic posters and hurled racial epithets, reportedly denouncing Schiffman as a Shylock who wanted to extract a pound of flesh from the black community.

Schiffman turned to several black leaders for help, but despite the increasingly hostile acts of anti-Semitism that were taking place, they all remained silent – except for Robinson.

“I was ashamed to see community leaders who were afraid to speak out when blacks were guilty of anti-Semitism,” Robinson wrote in his 1972 autobiography, I Never Had It Made. “How could we stand against anti-black prejudice if we were willing to practice or condone a similar intolerance?”

Never one to back down from a cause he believed in, Robinson used his syndicated newspaper column to condemn the protesters’ blatant use of anti-Semitism and compared their actions to events that had occurred in Nazi Germany, drawing the ire of many black nationalists in the process.

The nationalists, who had adopted a separatist agenda, retaliated by protesting in front of a nearby Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee shop – Robinson had worked for the chain after his 1957 retirement from baseball– and outside a dinner honoring Robinson’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In turn, several mainstream black leaders, including Roy Wilkins, the longtime leader of the NAACP, quickly came to the defense of Robinson and Schiffman.

“In their fight for equal opportunity, Negroes cannot use the slimy tools of anti-Semitism or indulge in racism, the very tactics against which we cry out,” Wilkins wrote in a telegram to Robinson. “We join you in your straight statement that this is a matter of principle from which there can be no retreat.”

Other leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Philadelphia Tribune publisher Dr. E. Washington Rhodes, also offered their support, according to Robinson.

Major League Baseball’s first black player also managed to pry a condemnation of anti-Semitism from Lewis Micheaux, the owner of Harlem’s National Memorial African Book Store, though Micheaux had sympathized with the marchers and denounced Robinson’s initial criticisms.

Soon after, the protests ceased.

Some Jewish communal officials have noted that Robinson’s strong stance during the 1962 Apollo incident stood in stark contrast to the silence from black leaders during the 1995 protests outside Freddy’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street.

For months, large crowds gathered in front of the Harlem store to protest the efforts of its Jewish owner, Fred Harari, to expand into an adjacent storefront that was occupied by a black-owned business.

The condemnations came only after one protester, Roland Smith Jr., shot and killed seven store employees before burning down the building and taking his own life.

Robinson was always quick to criticize anti-Semitism in the black community, according to Stephen Norwood, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who co-wrote a scholarly article on Robinson’s relationship with Jews.

In a 1997 interview timed to the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s integration of baseball, Norwood pointed out that Robinson was the first to condemn and call for the removal of a Congress of Racial Equality official in 1966 after the official shouted at a group of Jews, “Hitler made a mistake when he didn’t kill enough of you.”

While raising funds for the NAACP and bail money for imprisoned civil-rights marchers, Norwood said, Robinson witnessed the valuable contributions that Jews were making to the black community’s struggle. When Robinson took part in the legendary march on Washington and stood by King in Birmingham, Ala., he saw that some Jews also were placing their bodies on the line for civil-rights causes.

The Sexualization of Our Teens is Becoming Endemic

Monday, April 8th, 2013

It speaks volumes about a culture when a president, whom by all accounts is personally honorable, is forced to apologize to an attorney general for commenting favorably on her physical appearance, while, in the same week that same culture defends lace trim thongs for teen girls with “Call Me” on the front and lace back underwear with the word “Wild” on the back.

Welcome to America and it’s increasingly bizarre relationship with women’s sexuality.

Did President Obama mean anything nefarious when he praised California Attorney General Kamala Harris as “by far, the best-looking attorney general … It’s true! C’mon.” I doubt it. Still, he apologized because, however innocent, it wrongly sexualized a woman who ought be judged entirely by her professional performance. Too many women are hired based on their capacity for window dressing with places like Wall Street apparently being some of the worst offenders.

But what is a more harmful transgression in the ongoing sexualization of women? A comment about a mature, brilliant, and fully grown female as also being attractive, or one of the America’s most famous undergarment companies targeting teens with green-and-white polka-dot hipsters reading ‘Feeling Lucky?’

Recently a teen girl came to see me. She had been sexually violated by a boy her own age whom she had considered a friend. After reporting the incident to the authorities, she wished to discover how she could recapture her innocence. “The world I inhabit is all about me and my friends being as sexually alluring as possible for the boys in our class. It felt good to get attention. I never believed it could end in something like this. Now I’ll never trust a man again.”

Now, granted, sexual assault is an extreme manifestation of the increasing sexual exploitation of young girls and, ultimately, regardless of the cultural factors, a man must never harm a woman, failing which he must face severe punishment. But have we no responsibility as a culture for the portrayal of girls as a boy’s play thing from an increasingly young age, and do we really believe that the growing degradation of women has no consequences?

Victoria’s Secret PINK label, with its new Bright Young Things Campaign, is a particularly egregious offender. Now, I am no prude and I welcome beautiful and sexy lingerie for women. I want to live in a world where a wife is always attractive to her husband and vice versa (although men wearing lingerie is probably a step too far).

But for goodness sake, do fifteen year olds need thongs with the words “Call me” on the front? Do they need the words “I dare you” printed on their backsides? Or “Let’s make out” printed on the most private parts of their bodies? Does any of this square with the message we’re trying to send to teen girls that they should be valued for their minds before their bodies?

And lest the argument be made that the PINK line is only for college-aged girls, Victoria’s SecretChief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer made it clear that the PINK lingerie line seeks to reach a teen audience. “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK,” he said.

As a father raising six daughters, I know that young girls are very attuned to the messages that surround them. My missive to my daughters is that I, their father and not some boy, is the one to love and validate them through their teen years. To seek approval and popularity from young men during their development years would only exploit their insecurities and vulnerabilities. But if they wait until there are adults they will have the inner strength to choose a man based on virtue rather than desperation. They will find a soul mate who respects them rather than a man who takes advantage (as if their father would ever allow that in the first place).

But it’s everywhere. James Franco’s new film Spring Breakers which I have not seen, is apparently so exploitive of teen girls, depicting them in the most debauched and degrading light, that even mainstream reviewers, not easily shockable, are shocked. Writing in Cinemablend.com, Sean O’Connell said, “Spring Breakers feels like the floor of a Tampa Bay strip club. It’s sticky, slimy, dirty and has seen far more depravity and corruption than one should handle.”

French Arabs Beat Up Israel Director Critical of ‘Occupation’

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Arab men assaulted an Israeli film director in southern France following the screening of his film criticizing Israeli occupation.

Yariv Horowitz was rendered unconscious as a result of the beating Monday by several men after a screening of “Rock the Casbah” at a film festival in Aubin, Army Radio reported Thursday.

He was treated at the scene and returned later that day to the festival. The report said it was unclear whether his attackers knew Horowitz was Israeli.

The film is set in 1989 during the first intifada and focuses on 18-year-old Tomer, a soldier stationed in Gaza, who is sent to avenge the death of his fellow soldier and comes to some new realizations about the political situation in Judea and Samaria.

 

How Old Movies Show What New Movies Say Are Lies

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Many young people nowadays are indoctrinated to believe that American culture has always been dominated by conservative, racist, and other nasty influences. Understanding of the complex history has not been balanced by this new indoctrination and distortion. It’s merely been made biased in the opposite direction far more systematically than it ever was before.

Racism against African-Americans and many other things in American history are undeniable–and shouldn’t be. Consequently there was plenty of room for improvement. But that same history also shows there is no need for endless self-flagellation.

I’ve often noticed this but it came to my attention again in rewatching the film that brought John Wayne to stardom. What better way to learn about the true and dominant themes of democracy, equality, and real anti-elitism than that classical Western directed by John Ford, “Stagecoach” (1939)?

As a traditional Western, the film depicts the Americans—not whites, Americans—as good guys in a battle with the Apaches. The legitimacy of Americans being in the southwest is not questioned.Aside from this are the following plot points:

–The stagecoach driver is married to a Mexican-American woman. No negative aspersions are cast at all. This is totally accepted. Incidentally, all three of John Wayne’s wives were “Hispanic.”

–The heroes of the film are an outlaw, whose motives for killing a man are portrayed sympathetically, and a prostitute.

–One theme that runs through the film is how the “respectable” people are mean to the prostitute and that’s a terrible thing.

–Although the women are treated by the male characters as delicate, etc., their behavior shows them to be courageous, clear-headed, and as tough as circumstances require.

–The main villains are a banker and an ex-Confederate officer who has turned gambler, shot men in the back, and is a social snob.

–The banker, who is absconding with his bank’s embezzled funds, is a super-patriotic hypocrite. For example, he says, “And remember this — what’s good business for the banks is good for the country” and, “It always gives me great pride in my country when I see such fine young men in the U.S. Army.”

Another line from the banker is, “America for Americans! Don’t let the government meddle with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is shocking, over a billion dollars! What the country needs is a businessman for president!”

That’s not in 2012 but 1939. And remember that as he is the bad guy so the audience is expected to groan and think that such a person is horrible and disgusting. When the mass media in 2013 portray a group like the Tea Party as racist–reduce taxes; high national debt–or in 2012 portray Mitch Romney unfavorably–a businessman for president?–the ground was well-prepared. In what film was a community organizer a villain?

Other plot points include:

–The moralistic, deliberately uglified—respectable women of the town are presented as narrow-minded prigs.

–One of the stations the stage coach visits is run by a Mexican-American team, including the manager, who are portrayed sympathetically.

–When one of the passengers makes a racist remark about the Apache wife of the Mexican-American manager, he’s made fun of. And note that the man’s statements are made in the context of fear that she might somehow be a spy for the Apache forces whose imminent attack they fear. And on top of that he’s not from the West and unused to seeing Native Americans. The other man who distrusts her is, of course, the evil banker. While she might actually be helping the Apaches, the banker is wrong when he accuses her of being a thief of his stolen loot, which he soon finds.

–In an early scene, the cavalry scout has reported that the Apaches have gone to war. Asked how do they know he’s telling the truth, an officer replies, “He’s a Cheyenne. They hate Apaches worse than we do.” So all Native Americans are not portrayed as the same; some are allies. Today, the fact that some tribes were aggressive and “imperialistic,” engaging in massacres and tortures of others—motivating the latter to side with the U.S. army–is hidden, since that would distract from the narrative that only whites are racist and aggressive.

Heeb Magazine Gets Serious

Friday, December 7th, 2012

In a departure from their usual irreverence and not so kosher antics,  Heeb Magazine, the infamous humor magazine for unaffiliated Jews,  has appealed to the wider Jewish community to support former Heeb publisher Joshua Neuman’s short indie film, Johnny Physical Lives. The film is about his younger brother Jonathan, and his fight with leukemia.

Neuman explains the goal of his film as follows:

 “In the U.S. alone, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year. While overall survival rates have improved during the past 25 years, for those between the ages of 15 and 29, survival rates have worsened. In addition, young adults with cancer face their own distinct set of emotional challenges, finding themselves utterly dependent at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be asserting their independence. I want to shine a light on this demographic (young adults with cancer) while creating a tribute to my late brother’s courage and creativity.”

This project is in the running for a consultation with the Tribeca Film Institute, and if they win, it will add weight to Neuman’s goals for the project.

If you’re interested, you can vote for Johnny Physical Lives on the IndieWire site. Voting ends on Friday, December 8th.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/heeb-magazine-gets-serious/2012/12/07/

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