Tel Aviv on Fire

Tel Aviv on Fire (Hebrew: תל אביב על האש, Tel Aviv Al Ha'Esh) is a 2018 internationally co-produced comedy-drama satire film directed by Sameh Zoabi and co-written by Zoabi and Dan Kleinman. The film premiered internationally at the 75th Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section, where Kais Nashef won the Best Actor award. The Israeli premiere was at the Haifa International Film Festival, where the film won the Best Film and Best Screenplay awards. It was selected as the Luxembourgish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[3][4]

Tel Aviv on Fire
Movie poster; two men sitting across a table from each other; one in a white button-up shirt, the other in Israeli army uniform
תל אביב על האש
Directed bySameh Zoabi
Produced byBernard Michaux, Amir Harel, Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto, Patrick Quinet
Written byDan Kleinman
Sameh Zoabi
StarringKais Nashef
Release date
  • September 2, 2018 (2018-09-02) (Venice Film Festival)
Running time
95 minutes
Box office$1.7 million[1][2]


Salem (Kais Nashef) is a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, who is a low-level production assistant on the soap opera Tel Aviv on Fire in Ramallah. The show, which is popular with both Palestinians and Israelis, tells the story of a Palestinian spy who falls in love with an Israeli officer. Asi (Yaniv Biton), an officer at the checkpoint Salem must pass through every day to get to work, tells Salem that the show's military dialogue is unrealistic and writes his own script. Salem uses Asi's dialogue in the show, which impresses the producers and the star, Tala (Lubna Azabal), and leads to Salem being suddenly promoted to a fulltime screenwriter. There is only one problem. Salem can't write screenplays and must quickly learn.

To avoid getting fired, Salem makes a deal with Asi, who helps him write in exchange for fine Palestinian hummus, and a promise that the series' plot will end with a wedding. Salem convinces the producers to conclude the show's season with a wedding, but the Palestinian investors demand that the spy sets off a bomb at the wedding—killing herself, the Israeli officer, and his comrades.

Salem gets himself out of this bind by having Asi appear in the show as a character who breaks up the wedding before the bomb is detonated. This enables Tel Aviv on Fire to have a second season and Salem to remain employed. His continuing employment also resolves a secondary plotline where he is trying to win back his girlfriend, Maryam (Maisa Abd Alhady), who accuses him of being unreliable and unable to keep a job.


Name Role Details
Kais Nashef Salem Abbas Soap opera production assistant
Yaniv Bitton [he] Asi Tsur Checkpoint officer
Maisa Abd Alhady Maryam Salem's ex-girlfriend
Lubna Azabal Tala Soap star
Salim Dau [fr; he] Atef
Nadim Sawalha Bassem Salem's uncle and producer of Tel Aviv on Fire
Laëtitia Eïdo Maisa


Box officeEdit

Tel Aviv on Fire grossed $0.5 million in North America and $1.2 million in other territories, for a total worldwide of $1.7 million.[1][2]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 6.82/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Thoughtful and well-acted, Tel Aviv on Fire highlights the awful absurdity of war -- and proves it's possible to find humor in the midst of cultural conflict."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a normalized score of 70 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6]


Year Award Category Nominee Result Notes
2018 Venice Film Festival Best Actor (Orizzonti section) Kais Nashef Won [7]
Haifa International Film Festival Best Film Tel Aviv on Fire Won [8]
Best Screenplay Samah Zouabi Won
Toronto International Film Festival World Contemporary Cinema Tel Aviv on Fire Nominated [9]
2019 Seattle International Film Festival Best Film Tel Aviv on Fire Won
Israeli Academy Awards Best Narrative Film Tel Aviv on Fire Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Yaniv Bitton Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Sameh Zoabi Won
Best Casting Galit Eshkol Nominated
European Film Academy Award Best Film Tel Aviv on Fire Pending
2020 Magritte Award Best Foreign Film in Coproduction Tel Aviv on Fire Nominated [10]
Best Actress Lubna Azabal Nominated


The film is a Luxembourg-Israel-France-Belgium co-production, and received funding from the Luxembourg Film Fund, the Israel Film Fund, YES Israeli Films, Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and Mifal Hapais.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Tel Aviv on Fire (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Tel Aviv on Fire (2019)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  3. ^ "" Tel Aviv on Fire " représentera le Luxembourg aux Oscars". Le Quotidien. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  4. ^ Roxborough, Scott (24 September 2019). "Oscars: Luxembourg Selects 'Tel Aviv on Fire' for International Feature Film Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Tel Aviv on Fire (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Tel Aviv on Fire Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  7. ^ אבנר שביט (September 8, 2018). "פסטיבל ונציה 2018: "רומא" הזוכה הגדול, קאיס נאשף זכה בפרס השחקן". Walla!News (in Hebrew). Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  8. ^ יאיר רוה (September 30, 2018). "פסטיבל חיפה 2018: "תל אביב על האש" הוא הזוכה הגדול". סינמסקופ (in Hebrew). Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  9. ^ איתי שטרן (14 August 2018). "חמישה סרטים ישראליים יוקרנו בפסטיבל טורונטו". Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  10. ^ Bradfer, Fabienne (8 January 2020). ""Duelles" et "Le jeune Ahmed" en tête des nominations des Magritte". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ "תל אביב על האש". קרן הקולנוע הישראלי (in Hebrew). Retrieved 24 April 2019.

External linksEdit