A Reel War: Shalal

Recipient of a 2021 JFI Completion Grant

Israeli filmmaker Karnit Mandel works as a picture researcher and consultant for celebrated Israeli documentaries. While digging in an Israeli archive, she stumbles across film reels from a precious, long-lost Palestinian Liberation Organization archive seized by Israel in the 1982 Lebanon war. Inside the archive, she discovers never-before-seen footage of Palestinian life before and after 1948. The more she uncovers about the truth of these historical records, the more she comes into frustrating conflict with the bureaucracy of Israel’s defense apparatus, which not only denies possession of, but also denies access to additional footage. “I showed Palestinians the footage that Israel looted. They started to cry,” said Mandel. Will she be able to wrestle back any of this untold history, or will the reels forever remain buried? Mandel embarks on a journey to find people who were filmed and return the lost footage while confronting obstacles from both Israelis and Palestinians. A Reel War: Shalal is a film about a national cinema withheld from its people, the power of a visual archive and how it can shape collective memory about the past.  

Karnit Mandel is an Israeli filmmaker and picture researcher, currently residing in Prague. Graduating Summa cum Laude from the Tel Aviv University film school, her first documentary “Burning the Leaven” (60 min, Yes Docu) was nominated for best first film director in Israeli documentary awards. Her program “Third generation Dilemma” (30 min) was aired by Israeli channel 1. Her short experimental” “Daily Bread” was screened in the MOFFOM Prague film festival. She directed shorts and TV articles, and worked in many celebrated Israeli documentary productions as archive specialist and consultant. Among her research projects: “Beit Ha’ir” (Tel Aviv Historical Museum), the documentary series The next world, The Kibbutz & Tel Aviv Jaffa, Betrayal, Kafka’s last story, Life as a Rumor, The 5 houses of Lea Goldberg and many more. Karnit was recently awarded a scholarship to write a thesis research about Footage Archives in the film department in Charles University, Prague.

w/English Subtitle
Release Year
Completion Grant Year
Running Time
55 minutes