El Al Will Show TAU Films Onboard Monday, December 20, 2010
Innovative airline and university agreement features international award-winning film department
Your plane has levelled at 30,000 feet. The seatbelt sign is off. Time to relax with onboard entertainment — and now you'll have even more choices on El Al's international flights.
In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the carrier's Boeing 777s will offer a menu of short films created by Tel Aviv University's award-winning Department of Film and Television. Offered on two dedicated channels — one for documentaries and the other for scripted films — the movies were created over the last five years by young directors while at Tel Aviv University. They include Student Academy Award nominees and films featured at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University is known worldwide as a pioneer in film and television production, routinely producing work that takes top honors at the biggest film festivals in the world. Over the last four decades, the Department has educated an entire generation of writers and directors — with influence reaching far beyond Israel's borders. In Treatment, HBO's smash hit series starring Gabriel Byrne, for example, is based on an Israeli television series created by TAU graduates.
A unique perspective on Israel (and TAU)
Tal Kalderon, content and media manager for El Al flights, calls this a unique undertaking. "I believe we're one of the first airlines in the world to give students the opportunity to screen their films onboard. Winners of noteworthy prizes, the quality and content of these movies will give our passengers a special look into Israeli culture."
For travelers, the short film format has proven a very desirable one. And for young filmmakers, Kalderon adds, the agreement provides an opportunity to expose their work to a much broader audience.
Chronicling life and times
Pinhas director Pini Tavger
Among the scripted selections is the fictional story of Pinhas (2008), directed by Pini Tavger. It looks at the life of Pinhas and his mother, new immigrants to Israel from Russia. Chronicling her life as she ekes out a livelihood and maintains an affair with a married man, Pinhas forms a warm relationship with the religious family living upstairs. Pinhas was nominated for an Oscar — the Motion Picture Association of America's Best Foreign Student Film Academy Award.
One of the most prominent filmmakers to emerge from the TAU Film Department, Dover Kosashvili's work Late Marriage has been shown in theaters around the world. Im Hukim, a fictional student film of his, will be featured on the El Al flights.
Reuven Hecker, head of the department at Tel Aviv University, says, "El Al is interested in profiling Israeli excellence onboard, and when the opportunity to create a new channel to TAU filmmakers presented itself, we were happy to jump on board. We're proud that our students are regarded as the top of the class among young filmmakers around the world."
A scene from Im Hukim
He says the airline chose to screen TAU films because of the high quality of the productions and their short format — perfect for people who don't want to commit to full–length features while flying. Hecker, himself a filmmaker, hopes that the films will surprise viewers, and of course, provide valuable exposure for his young protégés — high in the skies.