The Israel Film Festival, the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States, has announced part of the program for its 24th fest, which runs from June 3rd – June 18th, 2009 in Los Angeles. Encompassing over 30 movies, the fest will open with the West Coast premiere of “Lost Islands,” the highest grossing and most honored film in Israel last year. Directed by Reshef Levy and starring Michael Moshonov and Shmil Ben Ari, “Islands” is an autobiographic drama set in the 1980s. The Israel Film Festival will theatrically self-distribute the film in a platformed release in major markets after the close of the Festival – the very first time a festival has ever directly distributed a theatrical film.
The festival also announced its annual awards recipients, who will be feted on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The recipients include: John Fishel (President of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles), Robert Lantos (prolific Hollywood producer), Branko Lustig (two time Academy Award winning producer) and Diane Warren (Grammy Award winning songwriter).
“This year’s Festival celebrates very talented and unsung Israeli filmmakers who are poised to be recognized on the world stage,” noted Meir Fenigstein, the Founder/Executive Director of the Israel Film Festival. “There is something for everyone, from family films that will screen on Sundays and lite comedies to enthralling dramas and rich documentaries that recognize the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. We also acknowledge the contributions of this year’s esteemed honorees and welcome from Israel the young winners of Festival scholarships who took their money to make films that will premiere at this year’s Festival.”
The full list of the announced narrative features at the festivals is available on the next page.
The full list of programmed narrative films:
(with descriptions provided by the festival)
Lost Islands, West Coast Premiere, Festival Opening Night Film (2008, 103 minutes) Director: Reshef Levy The biggest Box Office success in Israel in 2008, this autobiographic drama set in the 1980s centers around the Levis, a large family with a unique lifestyle. Mr. Levi lectures his children daily on the importance of fulfilling their dreams, while his wife preaches absolute family loyalty. When twin brothers, Erez and Ofer, fall in love with the same girl, they must choose between family loyalty and love. Neither boy finds comfort in their self-inflicted situations and later learns one must pursue his heart’s desire without taking his family into account.
7 Days, (2008, 103 minutes) Director: Ronit Elkabets, Shlomi Elkabetz The Ohayon’s, seven brothers and two sisters, lose their brother Moris. They will not leave the house for the seven days of mourning. Against their true will, they are forced to spend these seven days together, when each one of them bears a potential of destructiveness towards the family. The story describes the breakdown of the expanded family for personal independence, through the personal story of each one of the nine family members and their story as a group. ** WINNER – Jerusalem Film Festival 2008: The Wolgin Award for Best Feature Film & Award for Best Actress – Hana Azulay Hasfary Award of the Israeli Film Academy: Best Supporting Actress – Evelin Hagoel & Best Cinematography – Yaron Scharf **
Adam Resurrected (2008, 106 minutes) Director: Paul Schrader Adam Resurrected follows former Berlin magician and circus impresario Adam Stein an enthralling, enigmatic patient at a remote Israeli rehabilitation outpost for Holocaust survivors. Entertainer, clairvoyant, sophisticate and lothario, Stein veers from brilliance to eroticism, horror and madness, with flashbacks to the physical and psychological demoralization he endured under Commandant Klein in the Stellring death camp Stein appears to have everyone stymied and overawed, but an unusual new patient seems to have the magnetic power to break him free of the grip of his relentless torment.
Bruriah (2008, 90 minutes) Director: Avraham Kushnir This story infiltrates and creates turmoil in the life of a religious, Jerusalem family in 2008. The heroine of the film, who also bears the name Bruriah, struggles with a childhood trauma: a life of excommunication which was forced on her following the publication of her father’s book on the same subject. Bruriah goes in search of the one copy of the book which may have survived. Her husband opposes her quest. Bruriah’s desire to find that copy represents a threat to the way of life that he has created for his family. But Bruriah is unwilling to give up. The search for the book becomes a crusade during which she faces the compromises she has made in her life, her desires, and her limitations. Her husband Yaacov, faced with no alternative, decides to prove to his wife that really “women are light-minded.”
Eli & Ben (2008, 89 minutes) Director: Ori Ravid Eli is 12-years-old and his world is turned upside down when his father, the City Architect of Herzelya, is charged with taking bribes. The father is taken into custody right before Eli’s eyes and the news makes its way into the newspaper and the school ground alike. Eli is convinced that his father is innocent. He intends to draw on the full reserves of his innocence and mischief to see to it that his father is released. But the path would not be easy. Eli will have to face injustice, corruption and pretense, among both adults and children. He will have to shape his own principles and stick to them. In the process he will re-discover his father and taste the bitter sting of first love.
Father’s Footsteps (2007, 95 minutes) Director: Marco Carmel In the early 70s, Felix and Mireille and their children Eric and Michel move from Israel to the working-glass Parisian neighborhood of Belleville. The family has barely settled in when Felix meets Serve, a local gang leader. Serge leads Felix down the path of organized crime, until his arrest when Felix decides to step into Serge’s shoes as the leader of the gang. The shame is too much for Mireille to bear so she tells the children their father has gone back to Israel to join the army. But tensions between rival gangs and the discovery of the truth about his father lead Michel to experiment with violence and follow in his father’s footsteps. It’s up to Mireille to find the strength to hold her family together and protect them from themselves.
For My Father (2008, 102 minutes) Director: Dror Zahavi Terek, a young Palestinian on a suicide mission in Tel Aviv, is given a second chance when the fuse on his explosive vest fails to detonate. Forced to spend the weekend in Tel Aviv awaiting its repair, Terek befriends several Israelis, including the beautiful Keren, who has cut off contact with her Orthodox family and upbringing. With nothing to lose, Terek and Keren open up to one another, and an unlikely love blooms between two isolated and damaged individuals, raised to be enemies.
It All Begins At Sea (2008, 95 minutes) Director: Eitan Green This is the story of the coming of age of the Goldstein family – mother, father and son; an Israeli family coping with a familiar array of life experiences – friendship, love, sex, death. The film comprises three episodes: the first occurs at the seashore, the second unfolds in Ashkelon National Park among the ancient statues and ruins, and the third takes us to the family’s new home where they moved in anticipation of the birth of a new baby. Each of these situations becomes fraught with danger and drama. Taken together, they bind the three family members to each other more strongly and more profoundly than before. Fate plays tricks on the Goldstein’s; sometimes the tricks are amusing, often they are menacing. The Goldstein’s cannot rely on fate, only on each other…
Out of the Blue (2008, 92 minutes) Director: Igal Burstyn Shabtia and Herzel drive through the streets of Tel Aviv buying and selling used furniture and trash. Now and again, Shabtai takes a nap and in his dreams a seductive and passionate red-haired woman makes love to him. One day, Shabtai discovers her photograph in a face-cream advertisement and realizes that the woman on his dreams really exists. He sets out to find her. But it is Herzel who first wins her attention and then her heart. Herzel, however, loves Batya…. A comedy about abortive loves and about a friendship which survives them. **WINNER – Jerusalem Film Festival 2008: Award for Best Actors – Alon Aboutbol and Moshe Ivgy **
Seven Minutes In Heaven (2008, 94 minutes) Director: Omri Givon For the past year, Galia has tended not just to her own physical injuries but also to her boyfriend Oren. The event that left him in a coma and her back badly scarred is an enormous blur. Getting on the Jerusalem bus… the explosion… waking up in the hospital… most of Galia’s recollections come from the reports of others. But when Oren finally passes away, never having awoken, and a familiar and treasured necklace is anonymously returned to her, Galia realizes that in order to move forward, she must reconstruct this mysterious past and, in particular, that one horrific day.
Zrubavel (2008, 70 minutes) Director: Shmuel Beru Itzhak is a boy who dreams of becoming a director of successful films; he aspires to be the future Spike Lee of Israel. Itzhak goes around his neighborhood filming everyone and everything. From Itzhak’s point of view, his neighborhood and family stories are revealed on screen. His family, with much optimism, emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel. They make their home in a poor neighborhood, full of crime and drugs, but still Gita, Itzhak’s grandfather, successfully protects and unites the whole family, while providing his children and his children’s children with a good upbringing. A surprising chain of events undermines Gita’s control over his family. The conflict is ignited by the clash of generations, specifically between the Ethiopian customs cherished by Gita and his wife and the younger generation’s desire to assimilate with Israeli culture.
A complete line up of the Festival will be released next week. Announcement will include documentary films, student films and TV Drama Series.