For much of the past 70 years, the American Jewish community has supported Israel unconditionally, with vast implications for Israelis, Palestinians, and the American Jewish community itself. This relationship is now cracking.
ISRAELISM explores the past, present and future of the relationship between American Jews and Israel. Dozens of American Jewish thinkers, community leaders and activists share stories of falling in and out of love with Israel, and competing visions for a Jewish future, while Israelis and Palestinians describe how their lives are affected by the decisions of a community half a world away. Israelism asks how and why Israel became the cornerstone of American Judaism, what the consequences have been, and what will happen as divisions continue to grow.
Who is featured in Israelism?
The film features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street, Rebecca Vilkomerson and Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voice for Peace, Simone Zimmerman and Emily Mayer of IfNotNow, Abe Foxman of the ADL, Philip Brodsky of Hillel International, Peter Beinart, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, MJ Rosenberg, Sami Awad of the Holy Land Trust, and many others.
Who is making Israelism?
Tikkun Olam Productions is a nonprofit film production studio. Tikkun Olam uses visual storytelling to create a more informed and just world. Once all of Israelism’s personnel and costs have been paid in full, any profits will go to Tikkun Olam’s future productions. Our next project focuses on how different countries have confronted or avoided their colonial and genocidal pasts, with portions already filmed in Germany, France, the UK and the US.
Eric Axelman (director, producer) grew up in a small Jewish community in rural Maine. This film, his debut as a director and producer, represents years of studying and wrestling with the history, narratives, and realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and a number of visits to Israel and the West Bank. He is the founder of Pushed Learning and Media, a nonprofit that uses performance and multimedia to talk about privilege, identity, and oppression. He has spoken and performed at TEDx and schools around the country.
Sam Eilertsen (director, director of photography) has worked on a dozen feature films, primarily as a director of photography and editor. Recently he served as the director of photography on the narrative feature film Vault (2019), and edited the award-winning documentary Man In Red Bandana (2017). He has also created viral activist videos that have drawn hundreds of thousands of views and been featured by MSNBC, Talking Points Memo, The Intercept and many others. Israelism is his debut as a feature film director.
Daniel Byers (executive producer) grew up in Africa and Nepal before launching his documentary film career, which has focused on indigenous rights and environmental action. He has tracked cartels in Honduras, chased snow leopards in Afghanistan, and rafted glacial lakes in the shadow of Everest. His films have been featured at numerous festivals including the Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF), Banff Mountain Film Festival and International Wildlife Film Festival.
Gili Getz (executive producer) is an Israeli-American actor, photojournalist and activist. His work in recent years has been focusing on Jewish-American politics and is published regularly in Jewish and Israeli press. He served as a photographer for the IDF and as a news editor for Ynet. Gili performed across the country in numerous theatrical productions. He is the creator of The Forbidden Conversation a play and conversation that premiered at the Center For Jewish History in the spring of 2016 and explores the difficulty of talking openly about Israel in the American-Jewish community.
What do we need to finish Israelism?
We have shot over 50 interviews in the US and Israel/Palestine, with only the initial funds raised from crowdfunding last year (around $12,000), and personal investment from filmmaker Eric Axelman. Everyone working on the film has donated time or worked for extremely low rates, because we believe this is a story that needs to be told. However, we do need more funds to complete the film. Many post-production expenses are “hard costs”, meaning there is simply no way for the film to be completely finished without them. While our goal of $50,000 would allow us to completely finish the film, raising additional funds beyond that goal would help us produce an even better final product.
Our remaining expenses include:
Archival footage: in order to make the film compelling, we need hundreds of pieces of news, archival and stock footage to show our story, from early 20th century to today. Archival footage is crucial and one of the largest line items in the budget.
Animation and graphics: the film will make extensive use of animation and motion graphics to illustrate data and statistics, such as Jewish emigration from Europe to America and Palestine, the expansion of settlements, and American funds directed to supporting settlement growth. We will need to pay animators and graphic designers for their work.
Film Editing: our film editors are working for a very low rate, but need to be paid for their time and the use of their studios.
Music Score: our composer needs to be paid, as well as all artists contributing to the soundtrack
Color correction and video mastering: The video footage, shot across the globe on a variety of camera systems, will need to be mastered in order to conform to the quality standards needed for distribution.
Audio post production: Our sound recordings, including interviews and footage of events and protests, will need to be properly edited and mastered, and mixed with the music to create the final sound track.
Publicity and festival submissions: We will need to pay for promotional artwork and festival submission fees in order to achieve our goal of showing Israelism and at a top-tier film festival and securing a major distribution deal.
Insurance and legal costs: In order to get the film released through a distributor, we will need Errors and Omissions insurance and legal assistance.
Thank you so much for anything you can provide. We are almost finished, and just need help with post production costs. Please help in any way you can, and thank you so much.
It's been more than a year since we launched this campaign, and our film is almost finished. We've changed the name of the film from '70 Years Across the Sea' to 'Israelism,' and we'll be finished the film by late summer.
You can check out our newest trailer, just released today, at www.facebook.com/israelismfilm , or on our new website www.israelismfilm.com
We've now done interviews with more than 50 political leaders, academics, and activists, including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street, Simone Zimmerman and Emily Mayer of IfNotNow, Abe Foxman of the ADL, Philip Brodsky of Hillel International, Peter Beinart, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, MJ Rosenberg, Sami Awad of the Holy Land Trust, Issa Amro, and many others. Few films on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been able to cover such a large swathe of the political community, and we believe our film can be enormously impactful in getting the world, and especially American Jews, to reconsider what it means that the American Jewish community has unconditionally supported a nation that has carried on a brutal military occupation for more than half a century.
While our film is almost finished, we still need funds to finish post-production. While the editing is almost complete, we still need money to obtain extensive archival footage, to pay for professional audio and video processing, and to pay for music composition. If it's within your means to make another donation, we'd greatly appreciate it, and if you can possibly share our project with others who you think may be interested, that would be fantastic.
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement,