American Sabra (My Jewish Friend)

Roni struggles to take pride in his Israeli identity when introduced to a group of peers as Jack’s “Jewish friend.”

  • Yoni Azulay
    Idle Speed, No Dye, Beyond Closed Doors
  • Yoni Azulay
  • Zach Rineer
    Idle Speed, No Dye, Beyond Closed Doors
  • Yoni Azulay
    Idle Speed, No Dye, Beyond Closed Doors
  • Nathan Vincenti
    Key Cast
  • Collin Linnville
    Key Cast
  • Herut Ashkenazi
    Key Cast
  • Omer Rosen
    Key Cast
  • Griff Scially
    Key Cast
  • Tommy Lynch
    Key Cast
  • Sidney Rose White
    Key Cast
  • Carley Lovito
    Key Cast
  • Sam Besca
    Key Cast
  • Evan Miller
    Director of Photography
  • Yoni Azulay
  • Hunter Jones
    Art Director
  • Ines Høysæter Asserson
    Art Director
  • Beach Therapy
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Coming of Age
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 3, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    200 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Hebrew
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Yoni Azulay

Yoni Azulay is a Philadelphian and Israeli-American filmmaker. In 2022, he graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Film & TV Production. He tells stories that juxtapose generational perspectives through the bending of time and personal memory.

His short film 'Idle Speed' was a 2023 Cannes Film Festival SFC Catalogue selection and won the audience award at the Beverly Hills and NFFTY film festivals. His short 'No Dye' screened at the Nashville, NFFTY, Philadelphia and Santa Fe Film Festivals. His bilingual Hebrew-English short 'American Sabra' premiered at the Museum of the Moving Image in August 2023.

'Idle Speed', Yoni's undergraduate thesis project at NYU Tisch had the distinction of being the only undergraduate student production to receive complete risk management approval to feature a practical car explosion.

Yoni is closely mentored by veteran director Jeremiah Zagar and producer Jeremy Yaches at their company Public Record. He is also the founder of Bluestone Pictures, who specialize in narrative content and are currently developing their first Feature Film.

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Director Statement

American Sabra (My Jewish Friend) expresses a true personal conflict in my own voice, in an attempt to forgive myself for ever straying from my identity as an Israeli-American.

Making this film allowed me to portray my conflict of choosing to engage with others as the butt of a joke or to embrace and defend my identity, as a single cathartic experience.

Growing up, I was primarily surrounded by other Jewish people. Not until I befriended "Jack", who introduced me to his neighborhood friends as his “Jewish friend,” did I realize my Jewishness set me apart from others in my small rural town. I was then bombarded with many prejudiced comments, with my ethnicity as the butt of the joke. I suddenly felt a responsibility to portray the most agreeable version of myself even at the cost of my pride, for fear that if I defended my identity, this anger would be generalized to all Jews everywhere.

As I directed the actors for the film, I realized how much resentment I still had for the real-life actions of characters Tyler and Jack. I had to learn to understand their differing mindsets, needs, and backgrounds without judgment. Although previously remembering the person I based Tyler on – as a prejudiced, hateful boy, I learned through directing Tyler’s character that he just wanted everyone to feel included, and unfortunately poking fun at others was his way of expressing interest and care. The real "Tyler" committed suicide a year ago, and now I remember him with compassion rather than resentment. I also came to understand Jack's true nature as a mediator for those he cares for and his intention to address what he saw as an “elephant in the room.” Furthermore, I had to place great trust in my majority non-Jewish cast and crew to witness the Israeli quirks of my film without judgment, because in order for my cast and crew to have faith in me, I had to learn to entrust them with an incredibly personal story. Upon completion of filming American Sabra I could see that the confidence I placed in my crew was reflected back onto me, and that uncomfortable moments are an opportunity for growth both behind the scenes and on camera.