Note: this film is entirely in Hebrew. Anyone who wants to translate a bit of it for us and post details, is very welcome!
One of fifteen films made by beloved author Joseph Krumgold working with Norman Lourie, ISRAEL HOUSE IN THE DESERT won a medal for best documentary at the Venice Film Festival in 1948. The film was used to raise money and awareness in the United States about the plight of Jewish settlers in Palestine as part of the United Palestine Appeal of 1947-48. The film shows the difficult task of converting desert lands into viable farmland through irrigation and careful farming techniques. Although somewhat dramatized, the film is fairly accurate in terms of showing the co-operative farming efforts of the period, with settlers living in tents (11:10) performing back breaking labor in their struggle to make the land useful. At (12:50) a shabbat service is seen, and at 14:20 Arab neighbors are seen with the Israelis. At 14:30, a water pipeline is shown that ensures further agricultural development of the desert lands. By the end of the film the situation is greatly improved and tractors are being used to develop farmland which is now bountifully producing crops.
The author Jospeph Krumgold, who is most well known for his award-winning children's books, didn't turn to writing for this audience until mid life. He was born in 1908. His father Henry was a movie house operator and exhibitor and his older brother accompanied the silent films on organ. By the time Krumgold was 12 years old, he decided on a career in film. He wrote a number of screenplays in Hollywood when "talkies" first gained popularity between 1930-1945. An example of one of these films, Lady Behave, can be seen below. His first adult novel, Thanks to Murder, was published in 1935 by the Vanguard Press. Working in the Office of War Information during WW II, Krumgold became interested in traveling and documenting real places and people. This resulted in him producing several movies and directing a handful of documentaries. In 1947 he moved to Israel with his wife Helen Litwin where he was associated with Palestine films. He made 15 films while in Israel including The House In The Desert which won a prize at the Venice Film Festival. His luck with prizes though, was just beginning. When he returned to the United States in 1952, he owned and operated his own production company through 1960. During this time, he lived with his wife and son, Adam, on a 120 acre farm in Hope, New Jersey. His next novel, and his debut book for children, was And Now Miguel, first published in 1953. It was based on the screenplay of a documentary he made with the same title that took place outside of Taos, New Mexico. The Thomas J. Kromwell company commissioned the book and it ended up winning the prestigious Newbery Award.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com