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Accepted Paper:

Children of the middle class: Israeli filmmakers’ turn to identity politics  
Maayan Roichman (Tel Aviv University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper shows how Israeli filmmakers’ middle class position is tied to the rise of a new genre of personal cinema in Israel. It interrogates the ways in which filmmakers finance their productions and recruit volunteers to work on sets, and depicts the ‘economy of favours’ that emerge among them.

Paper long abstract:

The paper seeks to understand how the young Israeli filmmakers’ economic relations with other people and institutions have shaped the form and content of their work, led them to make films about their personal traumas, and developed their philosophies about how to be true to themselves and what type of film is worth making. Specifically, it interrogates the ways in which the young Israeli filmmakers financed their productions and recruited volunteers to work on their films, and depicts the ‘economy of favours’ that emerged among them. The overall purpose of this paper is to show how the filmmakers’ turn to identity politics is linked to their economic position.

I discuss how the maintenance of the unity between the filmmakers’ personal lives and the content of their films is key to the way they perform their fundraising and volunteer recruitment; in other words, how identity-based representations are important in the quest for making films. I show how this is commonly acknowledged to be the way the Israeli film industry functions at all levels, including the relationships between filmmakers and state funding bodies. The analysis lingers on the tensions between the language of agency and care within this ‘economy of favours’ and the filmmakers’ constant state of dependence on one another and on their families and communities at a time of shrinking state support for the arts. I propose that the existence of strong informal networks within the Israeli middle class enables neoliberal reforms to occur without significant public resistance.

Panel P012b
The middle classes under rising authoritarianism and economic unevenness: between great expectations and lost illusions
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -