Sallah Shabati (Hebrew: סאלח שבתי) is a 1964 Israeli comedy film about the chaos of Israeli immigration and resettlement. This social satire placed the director Ephraim Kishon and producer Menahem Golan among the first Israeli filmmakers to achieve international success. It also introduced actor Chaim Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) to audiences worldwide.
|Directed by||Ephraim Kishon|
|Produced by||Menahem Golan|
The protagonist's name, Sallah Shabati, is perhaps a play on the phrase סליחה שבאתי, Sliḥa she'bati, "I apologise for coming". In earlier print versions of Kishon's short stories which were revised for the film, the character was known as Saadia Shabtai.
The film begins with Sallah Shabati, a Mizrahi Jewish immigrant, arriving in Israel by plane with his family: very pregnant wife, ancient female relative and seven children. Upon arrival he is taken to live in a ma'abara, or transit camp, where he is given a broken-down, one-room shack to live in with his family.
The rest of the movie follows his many attempts to make enough money to purchase an apartment in the nearby new housing development. His money-making schemes are often comical and frequently satirize the political and social stereotypes in Israel at the time.
Finally realizing that people are more likely to get what they don't want, he organizes a demonstration against the housing office shouting the slogan: "We don't want the development: we want the ma'abara!" The movie ends with residents being forcibly evicted by police and transported to - the new housing complex.
- Topol as Sallah Shabati (as Haym Topol)
- Arik Einstein as the kibbutznik boyfriend of Sallah's eldest daughter
- Geula Nuni as Habbubah Shabati (as Geula Noni), Sallah's daughter
- Gila Almagor as Batsheva Ha'Sosialit (social worker)
- Albert Cohen
- Shraga Friedman as Neuman, the kibbutz secretary (administrator)
- Zaharira Harifai as Frieda, a kibbutz supervisor (and the real power)
- Shaike Levi as Shimon Shabati, Sallah's son
- Nathan Meisler as Mr. Goldstein, Sallah's neighbor and backgammon pal
- Esther Greenberg as Sallah's wife
- Mordecai Arnon as Mordecai
Sallah Shabati's irreverent and mocking depiction of core Zionist institutions like the kibbutz provoked strong reactions among many filmgoers and critics. "The kibbutzniks in the film resemble bureaucrats and are clearly divided into veterans with managing roles and 'simple' workers, a division which contradicts the myth of Socialist solidarity and collectivist idealism. The kibbutzniks betray total indifference, furthermore, to the miserable conditions of the poor ma'abara next to them."
Sallah Shabati received mixed reviews but achieved unprecedented box office success in Israel, drawing almost 1.3 million spectators.
New York Times critic A.H. Weiler called the film "more educational than hilarious", and said "Sallah Shabbati and his coterie are an unusual, endearing, often colorful lot, but their humor is largely rudimentary."
It won the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Award as Best Foreign Film, and opened and closed the Berlin Film Festival. The film was nominated for a 1964 Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, a first for an Israeli production, but it lost the Oscar to the Italian film, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
- Ella Shohat, Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (London: I. B. Taurus, 2010), p. 127.
- Judd Ne'eman, "Israeli Cinema," in Oliver Leaman, ed., Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 307.
- Weiler, A.H. (1965-10-13). "'Sallah,' Comedy, Opens at Little Carnegie". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- Shohat, Israeli Cinema, p. 126.
- "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- Sallah Shabati - IMDb, retrieved 2020-08-06