Israeli Film Director: Countrymen's Hits Abroad Are 'Mediocre or Worse'

Dover Kosashvili: When reality hits us in the face, there will be despair and disappointment.

Israeli film director Dover Kosashvili is trying to pour cold water on the past year's euphoria in the Israeli movie industry, calling films that won awards "mediocre or worse." "They're celebrating like this is genuine success," but "it's a load of rubbish," he told Haaretz.

"They talk about success? I see it entirely differently. The atmosphere is out of place, and it will end .... Everything will collapse, because everything is being blown out of proportion over nothing. When reality hits us in the face, there will be despair and disappointment."

Kosashvili, who directed the films "Late Marriage" and "Gift from Above," is scheduled to take part on a panel today on the future of Israeli cinema at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem. He is currently working on his third film, based on the novel "Infiltration" by Yehoshua Kenaz.

He is using his appearance to attack Israeli cinema's "new wave" that has followed the unprecedented success abroad of movies such as Ari Folman's "Waltz with Bashir" and Samuel Maoz's "Lebanon." Among the awards that Folman's film garnered were a Golden Globe for best foreign language film and France's Cesar for best foreign film, while Maoz was the first Israeli director to win first prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Folman, who will also speak at the conference, declined to comment on Kosashvili's views.

'Late Marriage' opened the doors

Maoz, however, said that "it was actually Dover [Kosashvili's] 'Late Marriage' that opened up Israeli cinema .... Since then it is simply that Israeli movies have been made that speak more to the outside world, and no doubt there has been a change. It doesn't seem to me that it is a deception or anything like that."

According to Moaz, "I think the credit goes mostly to Katriel Schory from the Israeli Film Fund. He created a framework that made it possible for a variety of scripts to get approved. The budgets grew and the Israeli Film Fund developed ties abroad."

But Kosashvili says the recent awards won by Israeli films "attest to steadfast goodwill to encourage Israeli cinema, and one day it will end. It's a kind of wave that festivals are embracing Israeli cinema, and it's not justified because the winning Israeli films are mediocre or worse."