Israelis are in love with cinema, as evidenced by the fabulous cinémathèques and film archives in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, and the mini-cinémathèques that have sprung up in smaller cities such as Eilat, Holon, and Herzlia. Documentary film played an important part in creating the image of the emerging Zionist dream in the 1920s and 1930s, but until recently, the Israeli film industry mainly produced rather heavy-handed comedies, melodramas, and dramas about the Israeli-Palestinian political situation. Sallah, a 1965 comedy about the absorption problems of Jewish immigrants from Arab countries, was the first Israeli film to have an international run; it starred Chaim Topol, who later starred in the American film Fiddler on the Roof. The Greek director, Costa-Gavras (who made the politically sensational Z, which examined the Greek military dictatorship of the 1960s) also turned his sights on the Israeli-Palestinian situation in the 1984 film Hanna K, starring Jill Clayburgh as a recent American immigrant to Israel who finds herself as the defense attorney for a mysterious Palestinian. Also check out the wry comedy Goodbye New York, by Amos Kollek (the son of Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek), staring Julie Hagarty as the most lost tourist ever to arrive in Israel. Interesting recent Israeli films include Yana's Friends, a bittersweet tale of new Russian immigrants in Tel Aviv at the time of the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein was lobbing missiles into Israel each night that he threatened would contain chemical and biological weapons; and the 2007 international Israeli hit The Band's Visit, a social comedy about an Egyptian band on an official cultural tour of Israel that gets lost in the Negev desert. Nazareth director Elia Suleiman explores the quirks and difficulties of life in Israel's Arab community in his inventive comedies, Chronicle of a Disappearance and Divine Intervention; also check out the bittersweet Rana's Wedding, by Nazareth director Hani Abu Assad, about the sometimes comedic efforts of a young, modern East Jerusalem woman to get married so she can keep her Jerusalem resident status.

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