The Celluloid Ceiling: A Gender-Based Analysis of The Israeli Film Industry

The report examines the Israeli film industry from the perspective of gender

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Over the past twenty years, there has been a growing involvement of women in the Israeli film industry. Since the establishment of Israel and up until the year 2000, women directed a mere 7% of screened Israeli narrative features. However, as shown in this report, over the last two decades this gap has been growing smaller, and the ratio of films directed by women between 2013 and 2018 stands at 21%. With that said, the positive change in the growing numbers of female-directed narrative features is not reflected in some of the film-related professions, and the gender-inequality within the Israeli film industry is still quite large. In recent years, a few reports and research papers have examined the evident gender-inequality in the allocation of budgets as well as in the gender-biased division of labor in the film industry of the Western-world. However, such research regarding the Israeli film industry hasn’t been published to date. This report joins existing research, allowing a comparison between gender related aspects of the Israeli film industry and equivalent industries worldwide.

The interest in examining the role of women rises, amongst other reasons, from the connection between the filmmakers to the types of content we are exposed to on screen (the artwork). The presence and absence of women from key roles in the film industry impact the types of narratives, topics, characters, and points of view presented on screen. The contents and representations we are exposed to have a tremendous significance in building our personal as well as our social identity and in shaping the reality around us; their importance cannot be overstated – especially in a world dominated by screens.

The report is presented in a way which reflects a certain chronology of the development of a cinematic career, beginning with students’ graduation films, through debut narrative features to full-length narrative features.

We will examine women’s presence in key roles when making full-length narrative features and take a closer look at these five key roles – scriptwriting, directing, production, cinematography, and editing. We will also look at publicly funded students’ graduation films; the available resources of public funding granted to women and men filmmakers between 2013-2018 through the analysis of the overall grant applications and grants allocated to filmmakers by Israel’s two major film funds, and their support of full-length narrative features – The Israel Film Fund and The Rabinovich Foundation – Israel Cinema Project. It is important to mention that this report only examines the two funds specified, and not the entire pool of public funding sources.

We will conduct a gender-based analysis of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television Awards – Ophir Awards, and Israeli Documentary Film Competition as a reflection of the local filmmaking industry in terms of cinematic yield, professional recognition, and publicity. Lastly, we will present information regarding women filmmakers from social minority groups as well as recommendations for a gender based analysis and the means by which to strengthen women in the film industry.

With the exception of the students’ graduation films, the Ophir Awards and the Israeli Documentary Film Competition, this report only examines the processes of making full-length narrative features screened across Israeli cinemas. The reason is that the sources this report draws on regarding documentary films are incomplete, mainly due to the fact that documentary films get far less screenings in mainstream cinemas.


// Lior Elefant is a Ph.D. candidate at the Sociology and Anthropology department, Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Her research, supervised by Prof. Nitza Berkovich, deals with gender inequality in the Israeli film industry.

The report was published in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and The Directors’ Guild.