The 25th Annual Isreal Film Festival revealed lineup of over 30 films and the recipients of two awards. Highlights of the event include opener, Nir Bergman’s “Intimate Grammar” in addition to “special programming” for Israel’s 63rd Independence Day. The festival will honor actor Liev Shrieber with the 2011 IFF Outstanding Achievement in Film Award, while producer and director Micha Shagrir will receive the 2011 IFF Cinematic Achievement Award.
“We are proud and honored to celebrate these remarkable men,” said festival founder and director Meir Fenigstein in a statement. “They are creative thinkers whose artistry, vision, generosity and achievements are legendary around the world, but particularly in the United States and Israel.”
The festival runs May 5 – 19 at the AMC Loews 84th Street 6 in New York.
The lineup of the 25th Isreal Film Festival with descriptions and credits provided by the festival.
Feature Films (Tentative)
Opening Night Gala Presentation
“Intimate Grammar” Directed by Nir Bergman
In the early 1960s in Israel, a new generation is growing up: the militant Israeli generation that will not go through another Holocaust. But Hinda’s sensitive son, Aharon, doesn’t fit the mold. His soul seeks refinement and art, which he can’t find at home. How could he? For his father, a Holocaust survivor, human existence is reduced to war and survival. Aharon refuses to become like his parents. During three years, he does not grow an inch, until he realizes he is partly responsible for this, and so he embarks on a dangerous inner journey: to cross the boundary dividing childhood and adolescence. (2010, 110 min.) Sakura Grand Prix Tokyo International Film Festival; Best Full-Length Feature Film Jerusalem Film Festival. NY Premiere. Nir Bergman will attend.
“The Matchmaker” Directed by Avi Nesher
Set in 1968, an Israeli born teenage boy gets a summer job with a holocaust survivor who brokers marriages and smuggles goods on the side. His office is located in the back of an old movie theater run by Romanian dwarfs who were saved from the gas chambers. The boy embarks on a dangerous coming of age ride during the Six Day War in Haifa, where love assumes surprising shapes and history is transformed into mythology. (2010, 113 min.) Winner of 4 Israeli Academy Awards.
“Brothers” Directed by Igaal Niddam
Dan works the land on a kibbutz in southern Israel. Aaron, his brother, is a doctor of law and philosophy and a distinguished scholar of the Torah, who comes to Jerusalem from the U.S. to defend the rights of Torah students who do not join the Army. The conflict which arises between two brothers reflects a society torn between religious and political principles. (2008, 116 min.) Nominated for “Best Feature” at the European Film Academy 2009. NY Premiere. Igaal Niddam will attend.
“Infiltration” Directed by Dover Kosashvili
Israeli director Dover Kosashvili adapts one of Israeli literature’s most celebrated novels by author Yehoshua Kenaz, in this multi-character, multi-tonal look at a platoon of aspiring Israeli soldiers, set in 1956. Set over ten years before the Israeli army’s epochal victory in the 1967 war, Infiltration offers a series of vignettes designed to show a smorgasbord of Israeli attitudes and mores and ultimately the challenges of creating a homogenous society from so many disparate pieces. Everything from Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” to Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” gets referenced in Kosashvili’s entertaining, thought-provoking tale. (2010, 116 min.) US Premiere.
“This is Sodom” Directed byAdam Sanderson & Muli Segev
Zohi Sdom revives the traditions of wacky Israeli comedies with a large serving of infantile humor, ridiculous characters andpure fun as it recounts the story of the birth of the Jewish people and the advent of monotheism. Set during the last week in history of the infamous city of Sodom, a close look reveals that the biblical reality is no different than our reality in 21st century Israel. (2010, 88 min.) Winner of Israeli Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress.” NY Premiere. Adam Sanderson is coming. (The film is the highest grossing Israeli film in Israel in the last 25 years).
“Zion and his Brother” Directed by Eran Merav
A sensitive coming-of-age drama set in a gritty working-class neighborhood of Haifa. Fourteen-year-old Zion and cocky olderbrother Meir live with their divorced mother in a dumpy apartment, and can count only on each other. After a tragic accident involving a neighborhood Ethiopian boy, the brothers are challenged by thorny questions of personal responsibility and morality. (2009, 84 min.) Official Selection at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
“2am” Directed by Roi Werner
In a city where everything is possible, a guy and a girl look for the impossible — a parking space! The search for the parking space makes them “victims” of the situation they find themselves in which becomes a night trip stringed with various characters and surprising events – a trip in which they must face each other (and confront themselves) as an absurd situation unfolds. (2010, 83 min.) US Premiere.
“Rabies” Directed by Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales
A brother and sister, in their twenties, run away from home after their dark secret is discovered. They find temporary refuge in adeserted nature reserve. When the sister falls into a hunting trap, set by a psychotic killer, the brother sets out on a race against time to rescue her. A forest ranger and his old dog, two apathetic cops, four tennis players and a murderer, wandering carefree amongst his traps, will all be gradually drawninto a whirlwind of misunderstandings, fears and violence. (2010, 90 min.)
“Revolution 101” Directed by Doron Tsabari
“Revolution 101” outlines the path to civil revolution. The film combines material that is both documentary and fictional and focuses upon a film director’s struggle to restore Israeli publicbroadcasting to its rightful owner—the public. The film accompanies Doron Tsabari and Ori Inbar, its protagonists, during seven years of tenacious struggle against corruption, deterioration, and inflexibility, until a new law is legislated that will guarantee well-managed public broadcasting. Doron and Ori, together with their supporters, embark on a journey into the world of Israeli politics and discover how decisions are made in the public administration, the government, and the Knesset. (2010, 85 min.)
“Salsa Tel Aviv” Directed by Jorge Weller
A romantic comedy with music and salsa dancing! Vicki is a single mom and a Mexican salsa dancer. After months of unemployment in Mexico, she goes to Israel to work there, and on the plane she meets Yoni. Vicki and Yoni are from completely different worlds – almost everything divides them: religion, culture and social class. Despite everything, they slowly fall in love filled with passion, jealousy, misunderstandings and comical situations, until the surprise ending. (2011, 90 min.) US Premiere. Jorge Weller is attending. (Film is mostly in Spanish with a bit of Hebrew).
Documentary Films (Tentative)
“Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams” Directed by Masha Zur Glozman
An engaging and intimate portrait of the acclaimed Israeli iconoclastic and internationally celebrated author Amos Oz, nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The film traces Oz’s childhood, his adolescence on a kibbutz where he met his wife (the sole editor of his works), and his family tragedies including his mother’s suicide. (2010, 86 min.)
“Land of Genesis” Directed by Moshe Alpert
Throughout the entire world, Israel is presented through news broadcasts on television, often a series of violent images of terror and war. The breathtaking “Land of Genesis” introduces a completely different Israel – an Israel of amazing landscapes and multitudes of plants and wildlife. Israel is located at the meeting point of three continents. The film follows three mammals in their respective geographic habitats, as the seasons change. Each of the animals will open a window to the world of plants and animals of the region, a world filled with amazing beauty, a world in which there is no hatred, and which is guided only by one urge: the urge for survival. (2010, 87 min.) The film was produced in association with Israel Nature and National Parks.
“Teacher Irena” Directed by Itamar Chen
“Teacher Irena” tells of…teacher Irena, an extremely charismatic woman, who has only one thing in her life – an enormous amount of love for the children. A single parent, all she ever does, inside the school, and outside of school hours, is take care of the kids, coming from different backgrounds, and different social status. A moving film about an extraordinary woman… (2010, 52 min.)
“Missing Father” Directed by Yair Elazar
Decades after the death of Israel’s dishonored Lieutenant General David Elazar (Dado), his youngest son launches a personal investigation into the life of this legendary military genius. Now a father himself, Yair Elazar feels compelled to understand the father whose many absences from home made him an enigma. Yair meticulously compiles archival footage, interviews with friends and colleagues, and his own ambivalent memories into a biography of the real Dado. In the making of this documentary, Yair works to restore his father’s reputation and place in Israeli history, while reclaiming his own place in his father’s life. (2009, 86 min.) This film will play on Israel’s Memorial Day in honor of the soldiers of Israel’s armies.
“The Hangman” Directed by Netalie Braun
The administrator of the mass deportation of Jews to the Nazi death camps Adolf Eichmann, was hanged in Israel’s first and only execution. Shalom Nagar, a religious Jewish ritual slaughterer and street philosopher who believes in charity, was the hangman. His life encapsulates the story from the perspective of “the other” – the marginalized Sephardi prison warden who was forced to do the dirty work of hanging the arch-enemy, and thus to carry a national burden that dramatically shaped the country, and his life. (2010, 60 min.) Best Documentary Film,Haifa International Film Festival 2010.
“Strangers No More” Directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from 48 different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin in the wake of poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. (2010, 40 min.) Winner of Best Short Documentary at the Academy Awards in 2011. Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon will be in attendance.
“Precious Life” Directed by Shlomi Eldar
A film by Israeli TV journalist Shlomi Eldar that recently made the Academy Awards’ documentary short list, “Precious Life” is unusually compelling both as a real-life medical drama and as a frank and nuanced consideration of the quagmire faced by Israelis and Palestinians alike. At the heart of it is the story of Mohammad, a Palestinian baby with an immunity disorder that has already killed two of his sisters. His parents have managed to bring him from Gaza to a hospital in Tel Aviv—medical facilities being what Eldar describes as the “only bridge left” between people living on either side of the checkpoints—but their quest to save the child is imperilled by a host of factors. (2010, 86 min.) Winner “Best Documentary” at the 2010 Israeli Film Academy Awards.
“Just Like the Queen of England” Directed by Micha Shagrir
A French boy, street-smart and charismatic, is left to fend for himself after the Nazi occupation of Paris leaves him motherless. The 69 years that followed were an emotional journey that is only now being truly examined. Layer by layer, the past and present of David Bergman unfold into a dramatic story of longing and strength. From the Paris of his childhood to the kibbutz of his youth, from the national stage to his private studio, Bergman travels with filmmaker Micha Shagrir in this starkly intimate film, showing an unshakable and unforgettable emotional tenderness. (2010, 88 min.)
“When Isreal Went Out” Directed by Meni Elias / Produced by Micha Shagrir
Between the years 1983-1985 thousands of Falasha Jews marched nearly 200 kilometers from the region of Gondar in Ethiopia to the Sudanese border, with the hope of reaching the Land of Israel. These immigrants, many of them elderly, women and children, suffered from the heat and the lack of water and food during the difficult journey. Almost 2,000 people did not reach the final destination. During the month of November 2009, a camera-crew follows a group of eight Israelis for eleven arduous walking days. Three of the groups were Ethiopian Jews, who had marched the same route 25 years earlier. The film is dedicated to those who did not survive the journey in the hope that it will strengthen the sense of pride and identity of Ethiopian Jews with their unique Heritage. (2010, 78 minutes)
Special Homage to Micha Shagrir
The 25th Anniversary Screening of “Avanti Popolo” to be screened on Israel’s Independence Day
“Avanti Popolo” Directed by Raphi Bukaee / Produced by Micha Shagrir
Two Egyptian soldiers, Haled and Gassan, are stranded in the Sinai desert at the end of the Six Day War in 1967. This compelling andcomical saga follows these soldiers’ attempts to find safety and water. Thepair encounters Israelis on patrol, and Haled, who as a civilian’s an actor, attempts a virtuoso performance of Shakespeare’s Shylock in order to obtain the precious water: “I am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes?” to which the Israeli responds, “He’s got his roles confused.” But all the soldiers are equal victims of the politicians. Their journey together emphasizes human solidarity on the one hand and the irony of their situation on the other. The “enemies” stride across the sand singing “Avanti Popolo,” an Italian revolutionary song whose words neither side understands. An intelligent and artistic satire on the absurdity of war. (1986, 84 min.) Israel’s 1986 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film.