Press Release

Documentary of Israeli basketball team puts Israel “On the Map”
Houston Jewish Film Festival
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
by M Groogan

Documentary of Israeli basketball team puts Israel “On the Map”

Houston, TX – The 13th Houston Jewish Film Festival opens Sunday, March 5 with 27 contemporary Jewish and Israeli-themed films and documentaries at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston. The 16 day film festival is the largest Jewish film festival in the state and is expected to attract 5,000 attendees to screenings at five area venue locations.

On the Map will have its Houston premier on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the J with the film’s director Dani Menkin in attendance. Additional screenings of the film take place on March 5 at 2:00 p.m. at Premiere Cinemas 11 Galveston and on March 10 at 1:00 p.m. also at the J.

On the Map tells the against-all-odds story of the underdog Israeli basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv that won the 1977 European Cup Championship. It takes place at a time when Israel was still reeling from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1972 Olympic massacre at Munich, and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv. The Israeli team beat a series of European basketball powers, including CSKA Moscow (known as the “Red Army”), a team that repeatedly refused to compete against Israeli competitors.

“I believe that the best sports stories are the ones that are larger than just the sport world. So, this wasn’t just about basketball,” said Dani Menkin. “This team represented the country and played against the team that represented our enemies. To actually compete and win against all odds, makes that a moment that no one who was there will ever forget. This was much bigger than the sport, and today it is not only an underdog sport story, it is the story of Israel.”

Menkin grew up in Israel and remembers wathing basketball games on TV. Even though he always knew the story, it wasn’t unitl he was an adult and was discovered that a movie had never been made about the team. That’s when he assesmbled a team and began production. The film features interviews with basketball icon Bill Walton, former NBA Commissioner David Stern,  Israel's former Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren and Natan Sharansky, a notable Israeli politician who spent years imprisoned in Soviet jails.

Menkin is a two-time Israeli Academy Award winner. His narrative and documentary films include "Dolphin Boy," "39 Pounds of Love," and "Is That You?" His movies have been also sold to Disney and HBO.

HJFF screenings are held at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), Landmark’s River Oaks Theatre, Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), The Emery/Weiner School, and Premiere Cinema in Galveston. The latter three are new venues to the festival this year. Visit for a complete guide to HJFF. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Send this page to a friend