"Eventi Popolari" is an Israeli film from 1986, directed by Rafi Bukai. Its name is derived from the Italian Communist anthem "Bandiera Rossa," meaning "Red Flag," and translates to "Forward, the People."
Considered a milestone in the history of Israeli cinema, "Eventi Popolari" offers a unique and intricate perspective on the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Set in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in June 1967, the film serves as a surreal critique of the war. "Eventi Popolari" received critical acclaim both in Israel and abroad, screened at numerous international film festivals, and won international awards.
In 2013, it was ranked first in Nrg Ma'ariv's project, "The 50 Greatest Israeli Films in History."
The film follows two Egyptian soldiers lost and despondent in the Sinai Desert at the end of the Six-Day War in June 1967. They aim to cross the Suez Canal and return home safely. On their journey, they encounter, among other things, a dead UN soldier in a jeep filled with whiskey, from which they quench their thirst and become intoxicated. They also come across an Israeli military patrol, and they join them on their surreal odyssey.
About the Film
The film began as a student project at Tel Aviv University but eventually evolved into a full-length feature. In a somewhat humorous perspective, Ran Shor and Ya'el Shor described the film's origin:
"On the evening of the first day of shooting of their student short, Raffi Bukai was sitting in his apartment, surrounded by mountains of old equipment, growing and ongoing quantities of army clothes and arms, communication devices, accessories, and canned food. He had no idea, no plans, and no dreams that 'Eventi Popolari' would become, after two more years of suffering, a full-length narrative film. That evening, he just wanted to return home safely."
Prof. Raz Yosef, who deemed "Eventi Popolari" as the most significant film in Israeli cinema history, wrote about the film in his article on Israeli cinema:
"...this film completely shatters all the myths of the national-religious genre, confuses the viewers, and changes all the accepted assumptions. Breaking stereotypes. The Egyptian soldier becomes the center of the narrative. He is essentially similar to an Israeli soldier... 'Eventi Popolari' identifies with the Arab. He has a name, he has a face, he has an identity.
Presented as humane and caring for the wounded. In complete contrast to the stereotype of a sadistic and inhuman enemy, a completely different image is presented... The film strips the soldier of his virility and the heroism of fighters... It breaks the representation of the Israeli and Arab soldier. The Egyptian is portrayed as a sensitive and intellectual being. The Israeli is presented as a lazy sadist and a layabout. Not responding to the myth of the virile fighter. They are not the beauty of the Balfour."
However, some argue that the Arab character is portrayed only in a role reversal - the Arab becomes like the Jew and takes his place, while the Arab identity is absent in the film. The film's perspective is Jewish, even though it deals with an Arab character (referred to as "the Jew" by his theater friends, quoting Shylock from Venice).
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