The 25th International Film Festival, which will run from October 3-10 at the Haifa Cinematheque and other theaters in that city, will get a boost of star power from its guest, Elliott Gould, who will receive an award for cinematic excellence. The actor, whose career has spanned 45 years, has starred in such film classics as Robert Altman's M*A*S*H and is best known to young audiences as Ross and Monica's father on the TV series Friends. The actor will be giving a master class and will be presenting a retrospective of his work, including Altman's M*A*S*H and The Long Goodbye, Mike Nicols' Carnal Knowledge, Paul Mazursky's Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, and Ingmar Bergman's The Touch.
The Gould retrospective will be one of the highlights in a festival, under the stewardship of artistic director Pnina Blayer, that features more than 200 movies and includes competitions for the Best Israeli films and the Golden Anchor, an award for the best film from a country located on the Mediterranean (this year the category includes Around a Small Mountain, the latest film by veteran French director Jacques Rivette).
The festival will open with a screening of the new Ang Lee movie, Taking Woodstock, a comic look at a young motel owner's son and how he was instrumental in making the Woodstock music festival into a huge success. Other gala screenings of upcoming movies include Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron, which stars Meryl Streep as legendary chef, Julia Child; Woody Allen's Whatever Works, starring Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm; Ken Loach's Looking for Eric, about a postman going through a crisis (Loach refused to accept an award at the Haifa Film festival a few years ago, but Haifa isn't boycotting him); and Lone Scherfdig's An Education, about a young woman who meets a con man, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was written by novelist Nick Hornby.
Renowned Israeli director Avi Nesher, who made The Troupe and Turn Left at the End of the World, will receive an award for his contribution to the film industry. Some highly anticipated Israeli films will premiere at the festival. These include Leon Prudovsky's Five Hours from Paris, about an Israeli taxi driver who falls in love with a Russian-immigrant musician; Yoav and Doron Paz's Phobidlia, an adaptation of the novel about a young man who cuts himself off from the word; and Ron Ninio's There Were Nights, about a father and daughter who have a troubled relationship and are played by real-life father and daughter, Moshe and Dana Ivgy.
Anat Zuria's latest documentary, Black Bus, is likely to generate controversy. Black Bus is about two young women from the ultra-Orthodox community who question the norms of that society. One of these women devotes herself to documenting the segregation of women on the ultra-Orthodox bus lines. Other documentaries include Barak Heymann's Lone Samaritan, a look inside the secretive Samaritan community and Uri Borreda and Itzik Lerner's Exodus 1947, the true story (as opposed to the Hollywood version) of the Holocaust survivors who sailed on the Exodus.
The Panorama section features the latest films by Atom Egoyan (Adoration), Takeshi Kitano (Achilles and the Tortoise), and Cristian Mungiu (Tales from the Golden Age).
Festival guests include Moroccan-French director Simone Bitton, Czech animator Michaela Pavlatova; Italian producer Renzo Rossellini; American documentary director Robert Richman; and Danish director Annette K. Olesen.
Special programs include one on controversial films that features a screening of Lars von Trier's recent film, Antichrist; tributes to Charlie Chaplin and Henri-George Clouzot; Green Films, movies about the environment; Poetry and Film - Neighbors, which focuses on the cinema of Egypt over the last 30 years; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a screening with live music; a screening of Shmuel Maoz's award-winning Lebanon, ahead of its general release; and an international pitching conference, where aspiring Israeli filmmakers will pitch their ideas to a panel of producers from abroad.
For information, and to order tickets, go to the festival website http://www.haifaff.co.il/index.php The site features clips from many of the films.