(84 min) Israel/Palestine/US

FRIDAY 10/27, 5:00 PM (SESSION 19)
[watch trailer]

Directors: Eric Axelman, Sam Eilertsen
Producers: Daniel J Chalfen, Eric Axelman


Two young American Jews - Simone Zimmerman and Eitan - are raised to defend the state of Israel at all costs. Eitan joins the Israeli military. Simone supports Israel on ‘the other battlefield:’ America’s college campuses. When they witness Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinian people with their own eyes, they are horrified and heartbroken – the Jewish institutions that raised them not only lied, but built their Jewish identity around that lie. Their stories reveal a generational divide in the American Jewish community as more young Jews question the narratives their synagogues and Hebrew school teachers fed them as children. 


Eric Axelman is a film director and producer. His new documentary, Israelism, features young American Jews who were raised to defend the state of Israel, but when they went there, what they saw on the ground shocked and deeply disturbed them, motivating them to become activists against Israel’s occupation and in support of Palestinian rights. Through their stories, the film examines the deepening divide over Israel within the American Jewish community.

Sam Eilertsen is a documentary director and director of photography. He worked for a decade as a DP and editor before directing Israelism, which is his directorial debut, and premiered in 2023 at the Big Sky Film Festival. He is directing the upcoming documentary Generation Green New Deal, which follows the youth climate movement, and Vs Goliath, a documentary series on frontline environmental justice activists.

Daniel J Chalfen is a Peabody and duPont winning and multiple-Emmy nominated film and television producer, and a co-founder of Naked Edge Films. Chalfen’s recent credits include Pray Away, the Sundance award winners Always in Season and The Infiltrators, Bathtubs Over Broadway (executive produced by Jason Blum & David Letterman), United Skates, Prescription Thugs, Southwest of Salem, and Silence. Daniel is a Documentary Branch member of AMPAS and a voting member of BAFTA.

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