Israeli television and cinema are notable for intense plots, deep and complex characters, and various portrayals and insights into Israeli life. Israeli films and television shows are getting more attention with streaming services like Netflix, now showing many renowned series and movies. Many Israeli films have received critical acclaim winning various awards and even Academy Award nominations. Not to mention, Israeli film star Gal Gadot has become internationally adored for her role as Wonder Woman. If there was ever a time to binge-watch a new series, it is now! While there are many to choose from, here are some of the best Israeli films and Israeli TV shows to watch now.
A thrilling look into the lives of several undercover Israeli Special Forces operatives, Fauda is a complex and two-sided story examining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The show which is available on Netflix follows Doron (played by Lior Raz who is also one of the show creators), and his team as they attempt to find a Hamas terrorist by the name of Abu-Ahmed. The show is highly addictive and will leave you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next.
When Heroes Fly (2017)
An emotional series that follows the lives of four friends who served in the army together. The four men shared a collective trauma that took its toll on their friendship and personal lives. The show takes place eleven years later when they travel to Columbia to find a friend they thought has passed. When Heroes Fly is a deeply profound series that examines PTSD while telling an incredible story of friendship. The Israeli TV series, available on Netflix takes place both in Israel and in Columbia and has been adapted from a book and recently won the best series at the Canneseries International Series Festival in 2018.
Shtisel follows a Haredi (religious) family in Jerusalem and brings a new perspective and insight into religious life appealing to both Orthodox and non-religious viewers. It is a heartfelt series that sheds light in a meaningful way analyzing family, love, and loss. Shtisel recently was released on Netlifx and is very binge-worthy. The show was originally released on the Israeli channel Yes in 2013, but since it’s recent release on Netflix it has quickly garnered a fan-following.
Zero Motivation (2014)
A comedy-drama, Zero Motivation follows two female Israeli soldiers serving their mandatory service with the Israeli Defense Forces. Zero Motivation is a dark-comedic film that received two awards upon its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. The film was directed and written by Talya Lavie, based on her own experiences. The Israeli film was very well received in Israel and has also taken on a global following, offering a new perspective and voice.
Footnote is a comedy-drama that follows a father and son who are rival professors. An interesting look into the academic world taking place at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Footnote tells a story of complex father and son relationship. There is a constant battle between the father and son who strive for excellence in their publications, achievements and endless struggle for fame. There is a stunning twist in the film when one is nominated for the Israeli Prize, a prestigious and most coveted award. This Israeli film is smart, witty and offers a complex look at family.
Named after a neighborhood in Jaffa, Ajami follows the lives of people living in the neighborhood. Ajami is a mixed and diverse community in Jaffa of both Christians and Muslims and the film provides insight into their personal stories and everyday lives, interwoven together. The Israeli film powerfully shows the commonalities and differences in each of the characters lives.
Mr. Gaga (2015)
Mr. Gaga follows the life of acclaimed choreographer Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of the renowned Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv. Ohad Naharin is an innovative and creative trailblazer who had a massive impact on modern dance as we know it today. Mr. Gaga is a documentary film that follows Naharin and was filmed over eight years. It is a beautifully made film that showcases the work and creative genius of Ohad Naharin, and it definitely an Israeli film to watch.
For some light watching
There are several series on Netflix that showcase the architecture, history, and cuisine of Israel. To enjoy a lighter look and experience some authentically Israeli television check out the following:
Somebody Feed Phil (Goes to Israel)
A series that follows Phil Rosenthal (creator of Everybody Loves Raymond) as he travels and enjoys culinary delights around the world. Episode three – Tel Aviv.
Conan Without Borders (Israel)
American comedian Conan O’Brien hosts a series of episode traveling the world and visits Israel.
Most Extraordinary Homes (Israel Episode, season 3)
A series that looks at some of the world’s most architecturally stunning homes. In season 3, they visit Israel viewing homes in Jerusalem, Hertziliya Pituach and more.