Film Fest to show “Tel Aviv on Fire”

By Reporter staff

The Binghamton Jewish Film Fest will hold a virtual showing of the Israeli comedy “Tel Aviv on Fire” in March. The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles. The showing is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton in conjunction with the Ithaca Area United Jewish Community. Registration is required prior to Thursday, March 9, which is when the link will be sent out. Dora E. Polachek, an associate professor of Romance languages and literatures, will lead a virtual discussion on Sunday, March 12, at 5:30 pm. Registration is free, but donations are welcome. To register, click here.

“Tel Aviv on Fire” tells the story of Salam, a 30-year-old Palestinian living in Jerusalem, who works as an intern at a Palestinian soap opera, “Tel Aviv on Fire,” which is produced in Ramallah. When Salam passes through an Israeli checkpoint every day, he meets Assi, the commander of the checkpoint, whose wife is a fan of the show. Assi gives Salam ideas for the show, which help Salam get a promotion to screenwriter. But when Assi and the show’s financial backers have different ideas about how the show should end, Salam must come up with an idea to save his career. 

“After we screened this film, I knew right away that I wanted to share this little gem with others,” said Stephen Lisman, a member of the Film Fest Committee. “It comprises an array of elements that tickled my funny bone, while also stirring my anger, a sometimes wild, but clever combination of political satire, absurdity, quirky characters, drama, breakdowns of stereotypes... all in the context of the tension of the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians.”

On Datebook: San Francisco Chronicle, David Lewis called the film “a delightfully satiric take on the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire, [that] revolves around a third-rate soap opera and a border checkpoint where creativity – and helpings of hummus – trump ethnic conflict. It’s a well-acted movie with both a funny bone and a sense of humanity.” Jordan Mintzer noted in The Hollywood Reporter that “this modest little charmer presents a lighter side of the long and ongoing crisis.” On, David Ehrlich wrote, “‘Tel Aviv on Fire’ spins a pleasant yarn about someone who’s trying to tell a credible story of an ongoing conflict without picking sides, only to find himself stuck between propaganda and naïvete.”