.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Israeli pop culture going mainstream

From JPost:
Joseph Cedar, director of the Oscar-nominated Israeli film Beaufort, and an Orthodox Jew, has resolved a thorny Shabbat dilemma.

Traditionally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds a high-profile public symposium for the five finalists vying for the best foreign-language film Oscar on the day before the award ceremony.

This year, the symposium will be on Saturday morning, Feb. 23, and Cedar was uncertain whether he could participate on a Shabbat.

"I had a long talk with my rabbi in Israel," said Cedar, 39, who is in Los Angeles with his family now in anticipation of the awards. "He decided that I could attend as long as I didn't use a microphone and walked to the event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater."

Cedar figures he can cover the two-mile distance in about an hour, an almost unheard feat for pedestrian-phobic Angelenos, but no big deal for Israelis - even for an Israeli who was born in New York, but whose parents made aliya when he was five.

In the meanwhile, the excitement in Israel about its film industry's first Oscar nomination since 1984 is building up.

Gilad Millo, the resident Israeli consul for public affairs, said that more than a dozen of the main Israel media outlets will send television and print reporters to cover the Oscar ceremonies.

Millo termed the Oscar nomination a "landmark event" and an auspicious beginning of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
And also from JPost:
An indie artist from Ramat Hasharon has become the first Israeli to crack the Billboard Top 10.

Yael Naim, a 29-year-old IDF veteran, earned Billboard's coveted "Hot Shot" designation last week with "New Soul," an English-language single that scored the highest debut of any song on the music magazine's singles chart.

The song ranked ninth in total sales across the United States on the chart issued February 16...The song also ranked second on Billboard's list of digital singles, while Naim's self-titled album landed at sixth on the magazine's digital albums chart.

The song's soaring Billboard debut follows a week spent at #1 on the iTunes Top Songs list, and certified Naim's rapid emergence on the American music scene.

Unknown in the US a month ago, Naim has become the breakout performer of early 2008 with "New Soul," which earned massive exposure last month after being selected for an aggressive marketing campaign for the MacBook Air laptop.

Born in Paris to immigrants from Tunisia, Naim moved to Israel as a four-year-old, later serving in the IDF and recording songs in French, English and Hebrew.
Here's her New Soul video, watched over 2.7 million times on YouTube: