Bourkeas Films / Gefilte Fish Films. Illustration: Nadav Yahal
Bourkeas Films / Gefilte Fish Films. Illustration: Nadav Yahal

Bourekas / Gefilte Fish Films

From "Charlie and a Half" (Charlie Va'Hetzi) to "Lemon Popsicle" (Eskimo Lemon) - it's hard to imagine Israeli culture without Bourekas films

A genre of films, which were blockbusters in the sixties and seventies, characterized by melodramatic plot lines and stereotypically ethnic characters. Among other things, they dealt with the tensions between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi customs and illustrated the differences through the lens of the dinner table – for example in the scene where the Sephardic Kazablan has a hard time dealing with the sweet gefilte fish at his Ashkenazi love interest’s house and ends up sharing it with the cat.

The name of the genre was likely coined by Director Boaz Davidson, according to whom the term “bourekas movie” is the Hebrew equivalent of “spaghetti western” – films about the American west which were made in Europe, usually by an Italian producer and director. The name indicates the adoption of the boureka – a doughy pastry stuffed (usually with cheese, spinach or meat) that originated in Turkey, and is associated with Balkan countries – by all the varied ethnic groups in Israel. There is also an Ashkenazi version, although less well known: the Gefilte Fish films, whose characteristics are similar but features an Ashkenazi hero.

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