What movie boy­cott? The Is­raelis are com­ing

The 13th UK Jewish Film Fes­ti­val opens next month with a strong line-up of fea­tures from Is­rael, but few home-grown of­fer­ings, says Nick John­stone

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -

IS­RAELI FILMS have been show­ered with in­ter­na­tional praise over in the past 18 months. Jel­ly­fish, The Band’s Visit, Waltz

With Bashir, Beaufort all won prizes or huge ac­claim, and most re­cently, Sa­muel Maoz’s Le­banon won the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Film fes­ti­val. So any­one sur­vey­ing the jam-packed, barmitzvah-themed 13th UK Jewish Film Fes­ti­val pro­gramme, will be cast­ing bets on which of the 15 fea­ture-length and short Is­raeli films are des­tined for the big time.

“The Is­raeli film in­dus­try is now very strong,” says fes­ti­val di­rec­tor, Judy Iron­side. “Their fea­ture films and doc­u­men­taries are world-class and winning prizes at in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­vals. This is very good news as we aim to bring new Is­raeli films of high qual­ity to our audiences.“

Top of the pile at this year’s fes­ti­val, which starts next month, is Keren Ye­daya’s gritty Jaffa, the long awaited fol­low-up to her crit­i­cally ac­claimed 2004 de­but film, Or, which also starred Ronit Elk­a­betz and her younger, husky-voiced pro­tégé, Dana Ivgy. Be­hind its charged re­si­t­u­at­ing of the Romeo

and Juliet tragedy lurks a poignant med­i­ta­tion on the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

“ Jaffa is a very pow­er­ful film,” says Iron­side. “It has an iconic story which is en­ter­tain­ing and mem­o­rable.” Elk­a­betz will be talk­ing about the film at the fes­ti­val’s screen­ing — an “hon­our” is how Iron­side de­scribes her pres­ence.

An­other solid bet for awards is Ta­tia Rosen­thal’s Is­raeli-Aus­tralian-pro­duced $9.99, an in­ven­tive stop­mo­tion an­i­mated fea­ture, based on var­i­ous Et­gar Keret sur­real slacker short sto­ries, which Keret him­self adapted for the big screen.

“ Waltz with Bashir drew at­ten­tion to the po­ten­tial of the stop-mo­tion an­i­mated fea­ture film, and en­cour­aged new audiences to watch this cin­e­matic art-form which might pre­vi­ously have been re­luc­tant,” says Iron­side. “$ 9.99 has a very com­mer­cial style, with Wal

lace and Gromit-style fig­ures and a sur­real hu­mour. It is a real win­ner, I think.”

Head­ing the list of im­pres­sive Is­raeli doc­u­men­taries are Yun Suh’s City of Bor­ders, a fas­ci­nat­ing film telling the story of Shushan, Jerusalem’s only gay bar; and Yariv Mozer’s My First War, a con­tro­ver­sial field di­ary of the Sec­ond Le­banon War, shot guerilla-style by the Tel Aviv Film school grad­u­ate who ac­tu­ally fought in the 2006 con­flict. “There are many films about con­flict in the Mid­dle East and about the first and sec­ond war in Le­banon,” says Iron­side. “ My First

War is a very per­sonal video di­ary. It gives an ex­traor­di­nary in­sight into life in the ranks of the IDF.”

The fes­ti­val in­clude plenty of films that Ken Loach would not at­tempt to boy­cott. There are sev­eral of­fer­ings this year ei­ther from France or co-pro­duced with France, the best be­ing Wed­ding Song, an out­stand­ing Franco-Tu­nisian com­ing-of-age drama from Karin Al­bou. Her mov­ing 2005 art­house hit, La Pe­tite Jerusa

lem, took au­di­ence in­side the Or­tho­dox Jewish com­mu­nity of Parisian sub-urb of Sar­celles.

“ Wed­ding Song is a won­der­ful film made with sen­si­tiv­ity and enor­mous artistry,” says Iron­side. “It is a unique story about two young women — one Mus­lim and one Jewish — who share a strong friend­ship that is threat­ened by prej­u­dice and the cir­cum­stances of their lives.” Also ex­cel­lent are An­dré Téch­iné’s The Girl on The

Train (which fea­tures yet an­other turn from Ronit Elk­a­betz); Gra­ham Guit’s drama-com­edy Hello Good

bye about a well to do Parisian cou­ple (Gérard Depar­dieu, Fanny Ar­dant) who move to Is­rael in the throes of a mid-life cri­sis; and Marco Carmel’s Fa­ther’s Foot

steps, a lovely film de­pict­ing Jewish North African im­mi­grant life in France, through the eyes of a fam­ily try­ing to set up home in Paris’s Belleville neigh­bour­hood, in 1968. And in the doc­u­men­tary genre, the must-see is Yves Jeu­land’s 185-minute long Be­ing Jewish In France, a his­tor­i­cal por­trait of the coun­try’s com­mu­nity.

“It ap­pears that there is a ris­ing in­ter­est in Jewish life, his­tory and her­itage in the French film in­dus­try,” says Iron­side. “It’s very wel­come — the films should be very ap­peal­ing to UK audiences.”

As ever, the Bri­tish con­tri­bu­tion is small, with only four films in the pro­gramme: Minkie Spiro’s bat­mitz­vah-themed short film, I Am Ruthie Se­gal, Hear Me Roar; Christo­pher Thomas Allen’s doc­u­men­tary

Sch­li­mazel­tov!, which ex­plores the theme of mazel or “luck” among Jewish Lon­don­ers; Lucy Kaye’s To­gether

Alone, a doc­u­men­tary about the last, now very el­derly, Jewish res­i­dents of Lon­don’s East End; and Clau­dia Solti’s That’s For Me, a fea­ture-length mock­u­men­tary, trac­ing the as­pi­ra­tions of a fic­tional north Lon­don wannabe celebrity.

“We al­ways search for UK films but as our au­di­ence must re­alise there are of­ten very few films with Jewish themes avail­able to the fes­ti­val, sadly,” says Iron­side. “This year we are pre­mier­ing That’s for Me and

To­gether Alone and high­light­ing the launch of ‘Oy Bri­tan­nia’ at the BFI where we will screen two old films — Loy­al­ties and Ci­ti­zen 63.

“Since it is our barmitzvah year, we are also show­cas­ing the most fa­mous ever Bri­tish-Jewish film, The

Barmitzvah Boy, writ­ten by the late Jack Rosen­thal, and this will be in­tro­duced by [his widow] Mau­reen Lip­man — of course. Who else?”

In­evitably, though, most at­ten­tion will be di­rected to­ward the two big hit­ters from the US — the Coen Broth­ers’ darkly funny, and very Jewish, A Se­ri­ous Man, and Paul Schrader’s Holo­caust sur­vival drama Adam

Res­ur­rected, star­ring Jeff Gold­blum. Both are guar­an­teed to sell out fast.

Dana Ivgy and Moni Moshonov in the gritty Jaffa. Left: The com­edy A Mat­ter of Size, about four portly Is­raelis who take up sumo wrestling


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.