In the last two decades Israeli cinema and television turned to the world of the ultra-Orthodox Jews. Films, such as Ushpizin and The Women's Balcony, as well as TV series, like Shtisel, attempt to present this insular society in all of its human complexity, offering relatable characters and compelling narratives. This is a surprising development, given that the ultra-Orthodox were ignored or portrayed negatively in earlier films, and that even now are viewed unfavorably in Israeli society, as the results of the recent elections show. This talk will examine this trend, analyzing how and why it developed in Israel, and what it means in Israeli media and politics.
Avner Shavit is one of the preeminent film critics in Israel. He has been covering both the local and international scenes for two decades and has been a consistent presence at major film festivals including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin. He is also a sought-after interviewer. His subjects have included Brad Pitt, Joon-Ho Bong, Michael Haneke, Isabelle Huppert, Wes Anderson and Mike Leigh, as well as a long roster of Israeli filmmakers. He holds a PhD from the New Sorbonne University in Paris, and teaches at the Haifa University in Israel.