Tel Aviv on Fire
2018 | Drama/Comedy | 95 minutes | Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles
Salam Abbas, a charismatic 30-year-old Palestinian living in East Jerusalem, is a trainee on the Palestinian TV soap opera, Tel Aviv on Fire. It is being filmed in Ramallah on the West Bank. To get to Ramallah from East Jerusalem, Salam has to pass through a tough Israeli checkpoint. Assi Tzur is the Israeli commander at the checkpoint. As it happens, Assi’s wife is a big fan of Tel Aviv on Fire. The two start to chat about the show. Assi implores Salam to make changes in the ending of the show. Salam seizes the opportunity. By proposing Assi’s recommendations, Salem is promoted from trainee to screenwriter. The problem? Salam is not a screenwriter. To avoid getting fired, Salam makes a deal with Assi: Assi will do the writing in exchange for some delicious Palestinian hummus. However, the investors of Tel Aviv on Fire want a different ending. To maintain his friendship with Assi and to protect his job, Salam now realizes it’s going to take a master stroke to pull this off.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 91%
- Metacritic Score: 70
Venice International Film Festival: Best Actor (Kais Nashif)
Haifa International Film Festival: Best Film; Best Screenplay (Sameh Zouabi)
Seattle International Film Festival: Best Film
Israeli Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay (Sameh Zoabi)
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Lighthearted and entertaining aren’t words often used to describe movies about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the characterizations fits TEL AVIV on FIRE to a T.
The Palestinian writer-director Sameh Zoabi won’t win an Oscar for his good-humored farce on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but could we interest him in a peace prize? His film is about sympathy and listening to both sides, and his irreverence is charming.
TEL AVIV on FIRE, a delightfully satiric take on the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire, revolves around a third-rate soap opera and a border checkpoint where creativity—and helpings of hummus—trump ethnic conflict. It’s a well-acted movie with both a funny bone and a sense of humanity.
Genial mirth and the nightmarish gloom of the Middle East do not sound like natural companions, but the droll and delightful TEL AVIV on FIRE has made the impossible possible.
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