With its small population, Israel does not have a large movie-going public. The haredim don’t go to movie theaters at all. If you make a movie in Israel, it is almost impossible to make money. Investors don’t want to take risks with their money, so Israeli filmmakers depend on government funding. Israel’s Ministry of Culture awards millions of shekels to filmmakers via local independent film funds. The film funds decide which screenplays will get produced.
Ever since the beginnings of Israel’s Cinema Law, these funds have been controlled by the Left. Not surprisingly, most Israeli films resemble propaganda films with strong Leftist agendas. Zionistic screenplays, and positive stories about the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers of Judea and Samaria, with idealistic Zionist heroes, aren’t funded. Even though the Likud has led many of the past Israeli governments, the dismal situation hasn’t changed. The current Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, is trying to change how government funds are distributed to filmmakers, but the reforms which she is proposing are cosmetic in nature and don’t prevent the administrators of the film funds from continuing to control where the money goes.
Because I am known for my Rightest views, all of the proposals I have made to the Israel Film Fund have been rejected. It isn’t because I don’t know how to write a good script. In the past, I sold four original screenplays to Hollywood, and I taught screenwriting at the New York University Film School for five years before moving to Israel. When I wrote a series of articles criticizing the way Israel’s film funds are managed, I received a letter from their lawyer threatening me with a lawsuit. The Golden Calf of freedom of speech is carefully guarded by the champions of the Left, but when someone criticizes their ideology, they term it libel, slander, and incitement.
The Turkey Prince:
My goal in making the 90-minute movie, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman,” was to make an entertaining, family movie filled with Torah messages that could also be used in schools and seminars to trigger discussions about serving G-d. The dialogue is in English with Hebrew subtitles because there are millions of Jews in America who are growing more estranged from Judaism every day, and it is known that the stories of Rebbe Nachman have the power to awaken people from their sleep.
I wanted to make a glatt kosher movie that everyone could see, secular Jews, Modern Orthodox, haredim, and hasidim. I managed to raise a modest budget from Torah-minded donors – far below the normal budget of Israeli films which enjoy the blessing of the film funds. But, thank the Almighty, I am pleased with the result. Like the Simpleton in Rebbe Nachman’s story, The Worldly Son and the Simpleton, I am happy with the crooked shoes I fashioned.
For your end-of-summer viewing, we have posted the four stories from the film on Youtube, “The Turkey Prince,” “Matter of Trust,” “The Treasure,” and “The Worldly Son and the Simpleton.” You can find them by searching for Shoshana Productions.
Matter of Trust: