In 1982, Meir Fenigstein, a drummer for the popular Israeli rock group Kaveret who had decamped to Los Angeles, founded the Israel Film Festival.
Back then, putting on a film festival meant actually sending film canisters around the world.
No surprise, then, that when Mr. Fenigstein expanded the festival to New York, it became a go-to event.
More recently, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey has sponsored Israel film festivals, with screenings at area JCCs and synagogues. No need to cross the Hudson for your fix of subtitled Hebrew culture. (You can mark March 7-22 on your 2015 calendar.)
In 2014, though, cinema no longer requires more than a mile of 35 millimeter film to project onto the silver screen. DVDs and digital streaming don’t just reduce shipping fees for festival organizers; they also mean that we can watch Israeli film at home, on our schedule.
Israeli films are as close to us as our television set, our online video supplier, and our local library system, as we note in the sidebar to our page 6 interview with Israeli director Eran Riklis.
True, movies are no longer, strictly speaking, film; our local movie houses all have gone digital. But movies, whatever the delivery mechanism, remain in spirit “a ribbon of dreams,” to use Orson Welles’ phrase. And most importantly, as Mr. Welles went on to note, “it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours, and that brings us to the heart of a great secret.”
In the case of Israeli cinema, that other world and its great secret is that of our cousins in Israel; by taking advantage of the opportunity to watch their films, their world can become ours.