Big Bad Wolves scene
Art,Israel in the Spotlight

Film director Tarantino calls Israel’s revenge thriller best of the year

Will the next big cult film be from Israel? Big Bad Wolves, a revenge thriller film by Israelis Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales has won glowing praise by one of the greatest directors of our time. Speaking at the South Korean Busan International Film Festival last week, during a public question and answer period, the Academy Award-winning director Quentin Tarantino said that Big Bad Wolves, a sadistic film about revenge against a murderer of children, is the best film of the year.

Tarantino said: “Not only is this the best film in Busan, this is the best film of the year.”

Considering we’re already in mid-October and not the beginning of January, this is a very good sign.

Tarantino is known best for the cult films Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.

His comment about Big Bad Wolves has created a swarm of interest in the Israeli film and Israel in general among Tarantino fans.

One commenter on the official trailer site for Big Bad Wolves writes: “Just saw the film in AIFF [Aruba International Film Festival] last night…This one is like a poisonous candy, you’ll probably enjoy every great directed minute of it, but be warned about the consequences.”

Other commenters say they are surprised that the film is from Israel.

Israel has several, but two particularly outstanding, film schools: the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem and the film school at Tel Aviv University.

Big Bad Wolves has already won several awards at the Ophir Awards in Israel – the country’s version of the Academy Awards.

It was the Official Selection for the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) this year, arguably the most important tastemaker festival before films make it to the Academy Awards. With access to film darlings graduating from nearby film schools like NYFA, it is a growing phenomena that Israeli films are grabbing the attention at international screenings and events, especially due to the limited budgets that Israeli filmmakers work with.

A reviewer from TFF writes: “The Israeli horror pioneers have stepped firmly out of the slasher genre with this deftly dark riff on unhappily ever after. An unsettling scenario of men pushed too far in the aftermath of a horrific crime against an innocent child, the film avoids cliché by delivering on its creators’ continued promise of unpredictability.”

While I don’t love revenge thrillers as a genre, and would choose drama or romantic comedy above all (read: chick flicks) I did enjoy the Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, a revenge fantasy about US Jewish soldiers who kill Nazis.

I think that Big Bad Wolves is one Israeli film I will try. Here is the Facebook page for it. Or catch the clip above.

Postcard from Israel
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

Postcard from Israel

Postcard from Israel

With Israel a top travel destination the world over thanks to its abundant cultural, religious , historical, archaeological, and technological sights, it was only natural for ISRAEL21c to develop a “Postcard from Israel” video series in which we highlight slices of life from around the country.

These short travel-logs offer a taste of new locations, and tell a visual story about a city or street, or place, and the people who make the destination special

Our newest video in this series shines a spotlight on the Jerusalem Light Rail. It’s not just a ride from point A to B, but rather a short trip through history. The Light Rail brings everyone – Jews, Christians, Muslims, religious, secular — on board and glides past all the Holy City’s main sights including Mount Herzl, the Old City, downtown, Yad Vashem and Mount Scopus. So, hop on board our video and click to watch:

We also focused in on another Jerusalem attraction – the First Station. The newest culture and culinary hub in the capital has given the 130-year-old Israel Railways property a totally new life. Have a look:

Our postcard series also gave viewers a trip down Emek Refaim in Jerusalem. This busy thoroughfare in the city’s German Colony is brimming with eateries, boutique stores and crafts fairs. And the best time to visit – in person or visually – is on a Friday morning:

Haifa was the first video to launch our postcard series. The seaport city known for its spectacular views, religious harmony and the Baha’i World Center is one of the country’s top destinations for international and domestic tourists alike. Israeli musician Yair Yona lent us his beautiful music as the backdrop and the result is a gorgeous mini tour of the city in video. Take a break for two minutes to watch:

We also took a turn onto the road less travelled to Rehovot, home of the world-renowned Weizmann Institute of Science and the innovative school of agriculture of the Hebrew University. This video takes the viewer on a scenic tour of the science city’s parks, shopping areas and even to an underground secret bullet factory. Click to watch:

ISRAEL21c’s video section is already brimming with nearly 700 original clips. Many of our videos have been picked up by other international media organizations including CNN, Discovery Channel and IBA News, among others.

ISRAEL21c has the honor of being the most-viewed non-profit channel from Israel on YouTube. Check in regularly for our other videos, and of course, to keep up to date with our Postcard from Israel series.

If you’d like to see a certain place highlighted in series, please leave a comment below.

Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

PBS rewards Israeli innovation

Even before ISRAEL21c partnered with Behrman House to deliver lesson plans, Debbie Sasson – a history teacher at the Epstein School in Atlanta – realized that ISRAEL21c was the “go-to” website for news and information on 21st century Israel.

“Your site has a wealth of information and it is truly inspiring,” Sasson wrote to us, adding that “we might like to know” that she had just been named a first-place winner in the PBS LearningMedia and The Henry Ford Foundation Teacher Innovator Award competition.

Of course we wanted to know! We sent a “mazal tov” to Sasson right away.

“It is very nice to be recognized for my project, but I am most excited that Israel’s innovative character will also get some press,” she answered. “I discovered ISRAEL21c last year when I first developed the classroom project on Israeli innovations. Your site is a research source for my eighth-grade students. Students used the articles to help choose topics and gather information on various innovations.”

The nationwide contest recognized Pre-K-12th grade educators who best used digital media in new and unique ways to improve students’ learning across key subject areas.

Overall, 30 teachers won honors – but only the top 10 (Sasson included) will participate in a week-long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, from July 27 to August 2, 2013, and receive a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course.

From agriculture to technology, environment to culture, Epstein’s students explored the revolutionary contributions Israel has made to society. Sasson – who was recognized by the US Department Education as an Education Innovator — introduced her students to Israeli advances with drip irrigation and then “inspired students to examine other areas of innovation in Israel, emerging from its scarcity of resources.”

The students learned about Waze, instant messaging technology, ReWalk, Dream Doctors Project, PillCam, electric vehicles, desalination and argan oil, among others. They then showcased their projects in an “Israel Innovations Expo.”

“Whether it was the group examining OoVoo, a video chatting application, or the students who explored eyeSight gesture recognition technology, they were fascinated about how much innovation from Israel can impact their lives here,” Sasson wrote for the PBS award site.

“Perhaps most rewarding was to see how the students applied new knowledge in the presentation of the innovation. Rather than just report on an exciting piece of art, the students fashioned it themselves.”

Sasson summed up: “I appreciate this recognition and I am grateful that as a result, I will now have the opportunity to participate in a week-long Innovation Immersion Experience at The Henry Ford in Michigan this summer. I am also excited that through the students’ projects, Israel’s innovative character, which was at the core of the winning entry, will receive attention too.”

AIPAC Innovation Showcase brings ISRAEL21c’s stories to life
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

AIPAC Innovation Showcase brings ISRAEL21c’s stories to life

ISRAEL21c was proud to have brought to light many of the companies and inventors featured by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in its Innovation Showcase — a highlight of the recent AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC. With 13,000 participants, this March event was the largest-ever Israel advocacy gathering.

AIPAC Midwest Regional Director Brian Abrahams introduced the showcase by noting that Israel — the 153rd smallest country in the world, with virtually no natural resources and surrounded by hostile nations — nevertheless has become a world leader in science, innovation and technology. He then brought on stage some of the scientists, inventors and CEOs behind these advances.

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Among them were Dr. Amir Goffer, founder of Argo Medical Technologies, maker of the ReWalk exoskeleton that enables people with lower-limb disabilities to walk; Tzameret Fuerst, CEO of a company that developed an FDA-approved system for non-surgical male circumcision used in Africa to prevent the spread of HIV; Isaac Littman, CEO of MobileEye, maker of a novel driver safety system now being installed in several brands of automobiles; Hebrew University Prof. Amir Amedi, a brain scientist pioneering “sensory replacement” methods for helping the blind to see; quantum physicist Boaz Almog of Tel Aviv University, who is working on “superconductors”; Prof. Alon Wolf, founder and director of the Technion’s Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab; and the three founders of Space IL, engineers of a lunar robot that entered the Google Lunar X Prize competition.

Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor winner Nadav Ben Yehuda was there, too, telling his story about giving up his dream of scaling Mt. Everest in order to save the life a Turkish climber.

A showstopper

Though AIPAC conferences have included an Israel innovation panel for the past few years, the Innovation Showcase was an unprecedented celebration of Israeli ingenuity – and a showstopper, according to one attendee.

“The response from our delegation was very enthusiastic because it inspired people to remember what we’re fighting for,” says Anita Friedman, president of the board of AIPAC of Northern California.

“I think it was a very effective addition to the program because it helped create the full mosaic of what Israel is about. It was also inspiring, in that it showed how Israel connects its principles and philosophy with its practice — what it means to be the Jewish state and how those principles contribute to moving the world, ever so slowly, in the right direction.”

An AIPAC source mentioned that the focus on Israeli innovation “has been picking up speed in the last few years at AIPAC events. The plenary focused heavily on the human side of innovation, which is always very powerful. It helps to underscore the case for Israel.”

The 2013 showcase was designed to focus not just on military and homeland security-related inventions for which Israel is perhaps best known, but also medical, entertainment, agricultural and other diverse products that impact the well-being of people across the planet.

Friedman notes that she had first learned of many of the presented innovations on ISRAEL21c. “It was a nice partnership between ISRAEL21c and AIPAC,” she says. “The experience of being reminded about what Israel stands for really resonates with people from here [the Bay Area] who are so focused on innovation and technology and who are very proud that Israel leads the way.”

We at ISRAEL21c are pleased to enable AIPAC and other organizations in spreading the message about Israel’s amazing advances that are helping to make the world a better place.

Israel is leading the world in technology breakthroughs. (
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

Insider’s tour of Israel

Within days of announcing its inaugural “behind-the-scenes” tour of Israel, ISRAEL21c fielded wide interest from China to North America.

Join ISRAEL on a Journey to IsraelAfter all, it’s a tour of Israel unlike any other. ISRAEL21c and Keshet, The Center for Educational Tourism, have joined forces to provide an insider’s view of modern Israel.

The October 20-27, 2013 trip will give participants the chance to go behind ISRAEL21c’s headlines and visit the cutting-edge world of Israeli medicine, see how Israel’s innovative technology is made, and meet the people who help better Israeli society.

You’ve no doubt used the Waze navigation system to get around at home. This tour will give you the chance to find your way around Waze headquarters and meet with CEO Noam Bardeen.

Or, instead of waiting for the next big thing to hit headlines, you can catch a glimpse of some of the forward-thinking ideas emanating from the Startup Nation’s innovation labs.

You’ll also have the chance to meet ISRAEL21c’s reporters and find out how we get the story, how companies have changed after we published our reports, and get a scoop on what we’re working on next.

The itinerary includes standard touring and shopping options, of course, but this is not a hop-on, hop-off, take-a-photo bus trip. If you come along, make sure to pack curiosity, inquisitiveness and an open mind. Participants are expected to ask questions and take part in dialogue.

“Even if you’ve been to Israel before, you’ve never seen Israel like this. You truly will be immersed in ‘21st century’ Israel, taking pride in the ways that Israel is leading the world in technology, arts and culture, and humanitarian work,” says Amy Friedkin, president of ISRAEL21c. “Come join me in October.”