Dalit Katz, adjunct assistant professor of religion, meets with Avi Nesher,
director of the Israeli film, The Secrets. Nesher's film is part of
the ongoing Ring Family Wesleyan Israel Film Festival, coordinated by Katz.
Films, Guest Speakers Bring Israeli Culture to Wesleyan
Last June, Dalit Katz fell in love with two contemporary Israeli films shown
at international film festivals.
“I saw these movies and I told myself, ‘I am going to bring these films to
Wesleyan,” says Katz, adjunct assistant professor of religion.
Katz stayed true to her word.
The films, titled Jellyfish (2006) and The Secrets (2007) are
both part of the 2008 Ring Family Wesleyan Israel Film Festival ongoing
through April 29. The festival, sponsored by the Jewish and Israel Studies
Program, Film Studies Department and Religion Department, features evening
film screenings and discussions with movie directors and film critics.
Katz created the Israel Film Festival in 2006 to promote Israeli culture on
“Israeli films are unlike any Hollywood movie,” Katz explains. “They are
very innovative, unique and unexpected. Some are about daily life in Israel
and others are wonderful stories. Audiences are moved by these films.”
every film, a guest speaker shares his or her viewpoint on the film, offers
an academic reading or a critical commentary, and participates in a question
and answer session with attendees in the audience. Past speakers have
included Miri Talmon-Bohm, visiting assistant professor of religion; Laura
Blum, film critic; and Avi Nesher, director of The Secrets and
recipient of Jerusalem International Festival Achievement Award 2006.
“We have internationally well-known directors and film critics here on
campus, and this is an incredible opportunity for our students to ask
questions and hold discussions with these wonderful speakers,” Katz says.
“It was amazing to see the sparks between the audience and Avi Nesher, when
he spoke. Having these speakers creates a rich, holistic experience for our
Upcoming films and guest speakers include:
March 3. Someone to Run With, a story about a boy who tries to
track down, through the streets of Jerusalem, the owner of a lost Labrador
and to piece together the incredible story behind the owner's disappearance.
The film is based on acclaimed Isreali writer David Grossman’s best selling
novel. A presentation and discussion will be led by musician Christopher
Bowen, who composed the music to the film Jellyfish.
“Someone to Run With is a real must-see movie with beautiful scenes
from Jerusalem,” Katz says.
24. Live and Become, a story of a Christian boy from Sudan whose
mother forced him to assume a Jewish identity of another boy who died in
order to send him to Israel and save him from hunger and death in his own
country. A discussion will be led by Laura Blum, film critic.
April 29. Jellyfish, a story of three women whose intersecting
stories weave an unlikely portrait of modern Israeli life. A discussion will
be led by the film’s director and internationally acclaimed writer Etgar
Keret, who will talk about this film and read some of his short stories.
Films are shown at 7:30 p.m. in the Goldsmith Family Cinema, located at 301
Washington Terrace inside the Center for Film Studies.
Katz incorporates the films into all three of her Hebrew-based courses.
Students enrolled in her HEBR102, HEBR202 and HEBR412-Advanced Tutorial, are
assigned 250-500 word writing responses – in Hebrew – after each film as
part of the curriculum.
ask my students to write their opinions of the movie, analyze a character,
give me feedback about what they thought of the movie, or offer a general
reaction,” Katz says. “It’s always interesting to see how they relate to the
film or a particular character.”
Wesleyan students also take advantage of the festival’s guest speakers,
posing an array of questions for the Israeli film experts. The speakers talk
in English after the film, but also attend Katz’s Hebrew courses to converse
solely in Hebrew. This exposure to native speakers makes the courses an
excellent linguistic and cultural opportunity, Katz explains.
“Our guests have commented on how prepared our students are,” Katz says.
“Our students are genuinely so interested in the speakers, they come up with
several questions to ask them, and they really show enthusiasm about
learning about Israeli culture and the language. It’s our amazing students
that set Wesleyan apart from other universities.”
She encourages her students to bring their friends and families to the films
and guarantees the general audience will find the Israeli films appealing.
All films have English subtitles.
Katz, a hobbiest movie-goer, says she developed an interest in Israeli films
years ago, and “buys them and watches them” often.
“But my real hobby is making the advertisement posters visible and promoting
the film festival here at Wesleyan,” Katz says. “I know once someone sees
one film, they will become interested and want to see more.”
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection