Bourekas film

Bourekas films (Hebrew: סרטי בורקס‎) were a genre of Israeli-made movies popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s.


Haaretz film critic Uri Klein describes Bourekas films as a "peculiarly Israeli genre of comic melodramas or tearjerkers... based on ethnic stereotypes".[1] They were "home-grown farces and melodramas that provided escapist entertainment during a tense period in Israeli history".[2] The term is said to have been coined by the Israeli film director Boaz Davidson, the creator of several such films, as a play-on-words on the "spaghetti western" genre, known as such because that particular Western subgenre was produced in Italy. Bourekas are a popular food in Israeli cuisine.

Although Bourekas films were some of the most successful in the box office, they typically received terrible reviews from critics. They were cited as "low-brow" and "vulgar", with great concern as to this genre of film representing the Israeli people abroad.[3] In critiquing Sallah Shabbati Biltzki in Al hoMishmar said, "Because parties in Israel are presented not only in the distorted mirror of a distorted humor but also in the ugly mirror of the image of public and organizational life...One has to think twice if such a film should represent us abroad".[4]

At the end of the 1970s, the popularity of the Bourekas film declined. In the 1980s, Israeli films became more politically charged and began to address controversial topics. Nowadays many of the Bourekas films have gained cult status in Israel.


The main theme in most Bourekas films is the conflict between ethnic cultures in Israel, in particular between the Mizrahi Jews and the Ashkenazi Jews. The protagonist is usually a Mizrahi Jewish man, almost always poor, canny and with street smarts, who comes into conflict with the institutions of the state or figures of Ashkenazi origin—mostly portrayed as rich, conceited, arrogant, cold-hearted and alienated. In many of these films, actors imitate different Hebrew accents, especially that of Jews originating from Morocco, Persia, and Poland. They employ slapstick humour, alternative identities and a combination of comedy and melodrama.

In a paper entitled "A Shtetl in Disguise: Israeli Bourekas Films and their Origins in Classical Yiddish Literature", Rami Kimchi claims that the portrayal of Israeli Mizrahi communities in these films bears a strong resemblance to the portrayal of the 19th century East European shtetl by classic Yiddish writers.[5] Kimchi attributes the commercial success of these films to their "hybridity", i.e. they were Israeli/Mizrahi and Diasporic/Ashkenazi at one and the same time, thereby satisfying the political, sociological, and psychological needs of both Mizrahi and Ashkenazi audiences in Israel.[5] He believes eleven films produced between 1964 and 1977 make up the corpus of the genre.[5]

Actors and directors

Bourekas films were highly successful in Israel during the 1960s and 1970s, but were also criticized for being shallow. Some of the main actors and directors were:

  • Ze'ev Revach: an actor and director who participated in many popular Bourekas film comedies such as Hagiga B'Snuker (1975), Charlie Ve'hetzi (1974), Rak Hayom (1976), Gonev Mi'ganav Patoor (1977), Ta'ut Bamispar (1979), Ha-Muvtal Batito (1987), Lo La'alot Yoter (1979), Sapar Nashim (1984), Pa'amaim Buskila (1998), and more. Revach eventually became the person which is most identified with the Bourekas films and continued to create those films until the end of the 1980s.
  • George Ovadiah: a director who created many melodramas which were influenced (and at times copied) from the Turkish cinema. The most prominent of his films are : Ariana (1971), Nurit (1972), Sarit (1974), West Side Girl (1979), and more. Obadiah also created comedies like Nahtche V'Hageneral (1972), Fishke Bemilu'im (1971) and Koreyim Li Shmil (1973).
  • Yehuda Barkan: an actor and director who participated in many Bourekas films such as Lupo (1970) and Lupo B'New York (1976), Katz V'Carasso (1971), Charlie Ve'hetzi (1974), Hagiga B'Snuker (1975), Bo Nefotzetz Million (1977) and more. Barkan also played in the 1980s Abba Ganuv film series and directed them.
  • Boaz Davidson: a director of many Bourekas film comedies such as Charlie Ve'hetzi (1974), Hagiga B'Snuker (1975), Mishpahat Tzan'ani (1976), and Lupo B'New York (1976). His films Charlie Ve'hetzi and Hagiga B'Snuker had a 'revival' in the 1990s and a status of Israeli cult film status.
  • Yosef Shiloach: Played in several Bourekas film comedies, in parallel with a set of dramatic and more serious roles he played in a variety of Hollywood films. A character which is identified with him in particular is "the Persian"—a somewhat sensual grotesque who possesses a strong Persian accent.
  • Tuvia Tzafir: Played in several Bourekas films, particularly in the role of the grotesque "Ashkenazi" character.
  • Menahem Golan: a director and producer of many fiscally successful Bourekas films such as Lupo (1970), Fortuna (1966), My Margo (1969), and Queen of the Road (Malkat haKvish)" (1971).


"Gefilte fisch" films, also known as "bourekas for Ashkenazim", are a marginal group of Bourekas films that feature Ashkenazi protagonists and ghetto folklore.[6] Some films in this subgenre include:

  • Two Kuni Lemels, 1966 (Israel Beker)
  • Lupo, 1970 (Golan)
  • Kuni Lemel in Tel Aviv (1976) (Joel Silberg)
  • Lupo in New York (1976) (Davidson)
  • Hershele, 1977 (Joel Silberg)
  • Marriage Tel Aviv Style, 1980 (Joel Silberg)
  • Aunt Klara (HaDoda Klara), 1977 (Avraham Hefner)

Notable films

Several prominent Bourekas films are listed below in chronological order of production.

  • Sallah Shabbati (1964)—directed by Kishon
  • Fortuna (film) (1966)—directed by Menahem Golan
  • Moishe Vintelator (1966)—directed by Uri Zohar
  • 999 Aliza Misrahi (1967)—directed by Menahem Golan
  • Two Kuni Lemels (1966)—directed by Israel Beker
  • Our Neighborhood (HaShkhuna Shelanu) (1968)—directed by Uri Zohar
  • My Margo (1969)—directed by Menahem Golan
  • Queen of the Road (Malkat haKvish) (1971)
  • The Contract (1971)—directed by Menahem Golan
  • Salomonico (1972)
  • Ha-Meshahnei'a Ba'am (1973)
  • Haham Gamliel (1973)
  • Kazablan (1974)—a story of a young Mizrahi man who falls in love with an Ashkenazi girl, starring Yehoram Gaon
  • Hagiga B'Snuker (1975)
  • Yi'ihiyeh Tov Salmonico (1975)—with Reuven Bar-Yotam

See also


  1. ^ And Then There was One, Uri Klein, Haaretz
  2. ^ Overview: Israeli film
  3. ^ Shohat, Ella (2010). Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (New ed.). London: I.B. Tauris Co & Ltd. p. 124. ISBN 9781845113124.
  4. ^ Biltzki. "Another Opinion on "Sallah Shabbati"". Al hoMishmar.
  5. ^ a b c A Shtetl in Disguise, Rami Kimchi
  6. ^ Shohat, Ella (2010). Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (New ed.). London: I.B. Tauris. p. 114. ISBN 9781845113124.
Cinema of Israel

Cinema of Israel (Hebrew: קולנוע ישראלי‎ Kolnoa Yisraeli) refers to film production in Israel since its founding in 1948. Most Israeli films are produced in Hebrew. Israel has been nominated for more Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film than any other country in the Middle East.

George Ovadiah

George Ovadiah (Hebrew: ג'ורג' עובדיה‎, Bagdad, Iraq, 1925 - Holon, Israel, 1996) was an Iraqi-born Israeli film director, scriptwriter and producer.

Born in Bagdad, he immigrated to Iran in 1949, where he become an established filmmaker.

In Iran he directed 25 films and occasionally was an actor.

In 1967 he made "Harbor of Love", an Israeli-Iranian coproduction. In 1969 he immigrated to Israel.

Ovadiah directed 13 Israeli films, focused in melodrama and comedy genres, they were Bourekas film. Initially his films were box office successes, but his later films were failures. In 1996 the Israeli Film Academy paid a tribute to his memory.

List of Israeli Academy Award winners and nominees

The following is a list of Israeli people and films that have been nominated for or won Academy Awards.

List of Israeli films of 1974

A list of films produced by the Israeli film industry in 1974.

List of Israeli films of 1975

A list of films produced by the Israeli film industry in 1975.

List of Israeli films of 2014

The Israeli film industry produced over forty feature films in 2014. This article fully lists all non-pornographic films, including short films, that had a release date in that year and which were at least partly made by Israel. It does not include films first released in previous years that had release dates in 2014. Also included is an overview of the major events in Israeli film, including film festivals and awards ceremonies, as well as lists of those films that have been particularly well received, both critically and financially.

List of Israeli films of the 1960s

A list of films produced in Israel in the 1960s.

List of Israeli films of the 1970s

This is a list of films produced in Israel in the 1970s.

List of Israeli films of the 1980s

A list of films produced in Israel in the 1980s.

List of Israeli films of the 1990s

A list of films produced in Israel in the 1990s.

List of Israeli films of the 2000s

A list of films produced in Israel in the 2000s.

List of Israeli films of the 2010s

A list of films produced in Israel in the 2010s.

List of Jewish Academy Award winners and nominees

This is a list of Jewish Academy Award winners and nominees. It includes ethnic Jews and those who converted to Judaism.

Lists of Israeli films

This is chronological list of films produced in Israel split by decade. There may be an overlap between Israeli and foreign films which are sometimes co-produced; nevertheless, the lists should attempt to document mainly the Israeli produced films or the films which are strongly associated with the Israeli culture.

For a detailed alphabetical list of Israeli films currently covered on Wikipedia see Category:Israeli films.

Nurit (film)

Nurit (Hebrew: נורית‎) is a 1972 Israeli drama film written, produced and directed by George Ovadiah.

It sold 702,000 tickets and is the 13th most watched Israeli film ever.

Sallah Shabati

Sallah Shabati (Hebrew: סאלח שבתי‎) is a 1964 Israeli comedy film about the chaos of Israeli immigration and resettlement. This social satire placed the director Ephraim Kishon and producer Menahem Golan among the first Israeli filmmakers to achieve international success. It also introduced actor Chaim Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) to audiences worldwide.

The protagonist's name, Sallah Shabati, is perhaps a play on the phrase סליחה שבאתי, Sliḥa she'bati, "sorry that I came". In earlier print versions of Kishon's short stories which were revised for the film, the character was known as Saadia Shabtai.

The Contract (1971 film)

The Contract (1971 film) (Hebrew: כץ וקרסו‎) is an Israeli comedy film directed by Menahem Golan and produced by Yoram Globus. The movie is in the Bourekas film genre. It sold 885,000 tickets and is the 6th most-watched Israeli film ever.

West Side Girl

West Side Girl (Hebrew: נערת הפרברים‎, Na'arat Haparvarim) is a 1979 Israeli drama film directed by George Ovadiah, and starring Ofra Haza,

It sold 114,000 tickets in Israel.

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