The 15th International Student Film Festival, which is sponsored by Tel Aviv University, will take place from June 19-24 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city. It’s always one of the most interesting and exciting festivals held here, and it used to take place every other year. But starting this year, it will be an annual event.
The festival will present 250 movies and give out awards worth a total of about $150,000. There will be dozens of distinguished guests from abroad, and Israeli filmmakers will participate as well.
The two guests of honor give an idea of the diversity and liveliness of the festival.
Pen-ek Ratanaruang is an acclaimed Thai director who has been one of the leading creative forces in the development of a serious film industry in Thailand. His breakout film was Transistor Love Story in 2000, and he has made movies such as Last Life in the Universe, Invisible Waves and Headshot, which have been shown at festivals around the world, including Berlin, Cannes, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Toronto.
He will present several of his films at the festival and give a master class, as well as attending a special screening in the south of Israel for Thais living here.
The other guest of honor, James Manos Jr., is a screenwriter and producer, who won an Emmy for co-writing an episode of The Sopranos (the famous “College” episode). He created and produced Dexter, the weird and wildly popular series about a likable serial killer, and has produced and written television movies and features, and will soon direct his first film. He will give a master class and also meet individually with film students.
The two will be honored at the opening- night ceremony, which will be held at Summit Park (Gan HaPisga) in Jaffa, and will feature a screening of Sofia Coppola’s latest film, The Bling Ring.
The heart of the festival is the student film competitions, and they will be closely watched, since many past winners have gone on to win at competitions around the world, and their directors have gone on to distinguished careers in film. Past participants and winners include Israeli directors Nir Bergman (Intimate Grammar) and Dover Kosashvilli (A Late Wedding), and directors Francois Ozon and Thomas Vinterberg from abroad.
There are competitions for Best Israeli Student Film; Best Israeli Independent Short Film; Best Short Film from the Mediterranean Region and Middle East; and the Best International Short Film.
The international film competition is run in cooperation with CILECT – The International Association of Film and Television Schools, which has a close relationship with the festival.
The juries for these competitions include both Israelis and international filmmakers. Catherine Breillat, director of such acclaimed (and sometimes controversial films) as Romance and Fat Girl, is the head of the jury for the Israeli Student Film Competition, and other jury members in the different competitions include Polish cinematographer and screenwriter Michal Engler, who worked with Israeli director Ari Folman on his latest film, The Congress; George de Boulogne, director of the prestigious film festival Clermont-Ferrand; Jason Taylor, a producer and the president of Bryan Singer’s production company; Stewart Hendler, the director of a the digital series H + and many others; and Nabil Ayouch, a Moroccan feature film director.
There will many special programs at the festival, including one on Palestinian film and media, which will feature a number of distinguished guests, among them Ibtisam Mara’ana, a documentary filmmaker; Saleh Bakri, an actor best known for his performance in The Band’s Visit; Guy Davidi, codirector of the Oscar-nominated documentary, 5 Broken Cameras; Yael Perlov, a film editor and producer; Norman Issa, an actor best known for the Arab Labour television series; Ahmad Barghouti, a director; Shlomi Eldar, a documentary director; and Tawfik Abu Wael, the director of the award-winning film, Atash. The conference will be held in Arabic with simultaneous translation into Hebrew.To order tickets and get more information on the festival visit www.taufilmfest.com/en/