A Feature Film Production

Off Base (working title)

Three Israeli soldiers travel on a journey of discovery about themselves and their country

About the Film

Inspired by and adapted from Alan Newman’s novel Good Heart, this feature-length film showcases Israel’s social diversity alongside its textured and sometimes challenging issues. 

Off Base opens as three IDF soldiers share a ride home for Shabbat from their base in Southern Israel. They set off as strangers – Ben, a lone soldier from the US; Roni, an Ethiopian Israeli soccer prodigy; Almaz, an idealistic Ethiopian soldier who teaches in a local school with predominantly Ethiopian immigrant children. Reacting to a series of unforeseen challenges, the three end up on a circuitous route bringing them in contact with a variety of unusual Israelis.

On a trip filled with adventure and exploring relationships, the three reveal facets of the paths that brought them each to Israel. Their youthful banter, laced with vulnerability, humor and openness, helps make the exciting ride home a journey of self-discovery and friendship that will clearly impact their future.  

Off Base is not a polemic defense of Israel. It is a road tripdramedy presenting the personal tales of recent Israeli immigrants coming to grips with the barriers they face and the choices they made. It tells a compelling, thought-provoking story reflecting multiple insights into Israel’s complex culture and society. In a charming, good-humored way, the film highlights the multicultural essence of Israel and its devoted citizens.

Why Making this Film is Critical

Through a nuanced story that young people can relate to, the film thoughtfully counters the rising anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist movements casting Israel as a colonialist enterpriseOff Base subtly tackles the myths and distortions young American Jews face on campuses, in high schools and in social settings.

The objective of Off Base is to light a candle in a dark room.

By presenting the inherent difficulties and charms of Israel’s inherent social diversity, the film helps dispel insidious claims of racism and discrimination by providing greater context and nuance. This will encourage viewers to think more deeply about Israel’s miraculous, complex history and issues. 

It will help young Jews to better understand Israel and to appreciate their Jewish identity in three very important ways:

The Power of a Compelling Story

Off Base brings to life a warm and inviting story. Like Leon Uris’s epic novel and movie Exodus, the film chooses fictional characters to craft a multicultural, multiracial, and heartwarming story of Israel. With drama, intrigue, laughter, and tears guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Fiction opens a window onto the broadest interpretation possible of the three protagonists’ narratives, inspiring honest, and sometimes difficult inquiry. Viewers can relate to characters that uniquely resonate with themselves. A story like Off Base presents an incredible opportunity to delve into real issues young adults face.

Off Base never shies away from the hard questions. It never deviates from its main goal: to empower young people to openly celebrate Israel as a democratic, progressive beacon in a world with too few of the same. 

To help young people stand up and be heard, it is incumbent upon the artistic creators and generous investors in Off Base to prepare them not only with history and facts, but with a good heart.

This film will encourage viewers to overcome preconceived notions and not to get caught “off base” in the quagmire of distorted anti-Israel rhetoric. Instead, they will connect with our quintessential Israeli story on a deeply personal level.

Distribution Plan

Educational Distribution

Release to educator network of schools, allied activist and philanthropic organizations, campuses, travel programs and missions

Community Screenings

Screenings at local Jewish community centers, synagogues and with other local organizations

Film Festivals

Submissions to premiere, international, Jewish, and Israel-focused festivals

Esti Almo Wexler, Writer & Director

Born in Ethiopia, Esti immigrated to Israel at the age of four, where she was reunited with her father, who had arrived two years before the rest of the family. Like her protagonist Almaz, she spent her military service working as a teacher for new Ethiopian immigrants. After her military service, Esti studied Photography and Screen Based Arts at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. She has held numerous photography exhibitions and has won several prestigious awards. Ultimately, her love of the art of storytelling prevailed and she continued her studies, earning a master’s degree in film and television at Tel Aviv University. Her first film was the short drama, Summer of ‘89 (2013), which she wrote and directed. Esti also wrote and directed Lady Titi (2018), the first feature film dealing with Ethiopian Israelis that was screened commercially in cinemas across Israel. Esti is the creative content director and co-owner of Abayenesh Productions, which she established together with her spouse, Elad Wexler.

Film Synopsis

BEN is a 23-year-old American “lone-soldier” with a childhood dream to enlist in the IDF to protect the Jewish State. He dealt with overt and covert antisemitism growing up in middle-class America. Despite family protest, multiple cultural challenges, and the rigor of IDF training, he is succeeding.

 Another soldier in Ben’s unit, 18 year-old Roni is a sturdy and athletic Ethiopian-immigrant soldier. He has the instincts of a scout and the potential to be an excellent combat soldier. But Roni’s real dream is to join the military’s athletics program, which would take him out of combat training and set him on course to become a professional soccer player.

 A short drive from their base, 18 year-old Ethiopian-immigrant soldier Almaz teaches at an elementary school in Beer Sheva, where she works with new Ethiopian immigrants. While she loves her students, she sees the way the Ethiopian children are picked on at school and doesn’t feel that the administration is taking it seriously. She has decided to transfer to a different school and today is her last day.

On Friday morning Ben and Roni are informed that all the soldiers on the base will not be released for Shabbat, except for Ben who has special permission to leave base for the weekend. For Roni this is terrible news, as he is supposed to be at a soccer game tomorrow where a professional scout will be watching him play and could determine the fate of his future. Using a bit of chutzpah and subterfuge, Roni manages to get away from the base and meets Ben at the bus stop. Before the bus arrives, they meet Almaz driving a decrepit car packed with her belongings. She offers them a ride, and the journey begins.

Their first stop is a military cemetery where Ben visits the grave of his childhood friend. On the way out their car is damaged and soon they are stuck on the side of a desert road. That is when the real adventure begins as they hitchhike their way home. Their trek across the country is beset by mishaps that bring them into contact with Israelis of all stripes. The journey takes them across the country, from the Negev – with alarms sounding in the background from missiles launched from Gaza – to the Dead Sea, to Tel Aviv. On their adventure Ben, Roni and Almaz meet different parts of Israeli society, taking in the Israeli sabra from the prickly outside to the sweet inside. While Ben and Roni grow closer, they are also both clearly interested in Almaz. Ben is the last person Almaz would have thought of as a partner – an outspoken, passionate Zionist – yet she finds herself attracted to his idealism and charm.

Ben ends up spending the weekend with Roni and his Ethiopian family and community full of Zionist pride, camaraderie, and differing opinions about Israel and some of the struggles of Ethiopian Israelis. After Roni’s victory in the soccer game Ben joins Roni, Almaz and their other Ethiopian Israeli friends for a night out. The group gets rowdy and a confrontation with police lands them all in jail overnight. Yet, in the morning, they hear a military operation has begun in Gaza and the police let everyone go so that they can return to their bases – return to their shared mission of protecting the Jewish people and building their homeland.

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