Tel Aviv on Fire


Closing Night Film

Monday, May 6, 2019
7 PM @ Suzanne Roberts Theatre

Buy Tickets Here

*General Admission: $25

*Includes admission to film and Closing Night reception.

Director: Sameh Zoabi
Genre: Narrative Feature
Country: Luxembourg/Belgium/Israel/France
Year: 2018
Running Time: 1 hr 40 min
Language: In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles

Sponsored by: David L. and Rhonda Cohen; Jacob Cohen & Company, CPAs; Edward and Susan Hoffman; Larry and Cindy Rappoport

Philadelphia Premiere
Salam (Kais Nashif), a middle-aged slacker with not much to show for his life, scores a gig as a production assistant on the hit Palestinian soap, Tel Aviv on Fire. When an off-hand remark about a linguistic error in an actress’ lines gets him in hot water with the show’s head writer on his first day, he’s convinced his gig is up. Much to his good fortune, his thoughtful attention to language gains him favor with Tala (Lubna Azabal), the beautiful French diva cast in the lead role of Manal — the undercover spy charged with seducing an Israeli general and reporting back his plans to her lover, a Palestinian resistance fighter.

Later that evening, on his way home from the studio in Ramallah, he is stopped at a check point by border control where he claims to hold a seat in the writer’s room for Tel Aviv on Fire. When the security officer, Assi (Yaniv Biton), learns that Salam writes for his wife’s favorite TV show, he uses his power and influence to trap him and impose his own vision for how the show’s Israeli characters should be written. Assi, after spending months convinced his wife has lost all interest in him, concocts a plan that is sure to win back her heart, as well as position Israelis in a more flattering light. Salam is well aware that Assi’s success rests entirely on his shoulders. He also knows that if he doesn’t cooperate with Assi’s demands, he may never see his Jerusalem apartment again.

Special Guests:

  • Dr. Sara Byala | Senior Lecturer in Critical Writing and History, University of Pennsylvania
  • Sameh Zoabi | Director of TEL AVIV ON FIRE


Official Selection:

  • Haifa International Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • UK Jewish Film Festival
  • Venice International Film Festival


  • Israeli Film Competition Award for Best Film – Haifa International Film Festival
  • Interfilm Award for Best Film, Venice Horizons Award for Best Actor – Venice International Film Festival


  • “A witty and warm-hearted look at a divided land.” (Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter)
  • “Wonderfully cast, Sameh Zoabi’s zippy comedy takes clever basic ingredients and runs with them, affectionately lampooning stereotypical attitudes about Arabs and Jews and how each group supposedly demands to be depicted.” (Lisa Nesselson, Screen International)