Reel ’em in

Film buffs rejoice for the 27th Jerusalem Film Festival, which presents 200 films of all types, from Israel and around the world.

July 9, 2010 16:41
4 minute read.
A shot from 'Ajami'

ajami 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The 27th Jerusalem Film Festival, which runs through July 17, got underway last night with a prescreening in the Sultan’s Pool Amphitheatre of La Rafle, Roselyne Bosch’s look at three children living under the Vichy government during World War II. The film’s director and stars, including Jean Reno, are attending the festival, which is held at and run by the Jerusalem Cinematheque and other theaters around the city.

Jerusalem Cinematheque and Festival founder and president Lia van Leer has brought in over 200 movies from 40 countries, featuring the best of world cinema. Famed documentarian Claude Lanzmann will present his latest film, Le Rapport Karski, about a Pole who risked his life to warn the Allies of the impending Holocaust. Tony Palmer will be here with his film, The Wagner Family, which examines some of the Wagner clan’s secrets. Gottfried Wagner, the composer’s great grandson, will also attend. The closing-night attraction will be Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids are All Right, which stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple raising a child.

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The festival also features dozens of special programs, including free openair screenings of comedies in Independence Park, including Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles.

The most hotly anticipated program this year will be the Israeli Feature Film Competition. Remember, last year, both Ajami and Lebanon, two of the most successful Israeli films ever, competed in this category. This year, Nir Bergman, who made the acclaimed film, Broken Wings, and went on to help create the television show B’Tipul, which became the HBO series In Treatment, has a new film, Intimate Grammar. Based on a David Grossman novel about a boy who suddenly stops growing, it stars Orly Zilbershatz. Georgian-born Kosashvili, best known for the film, A Late Marriage, has just made Infiltration, about an army boot camp for a motley group of recruits in the 50s. Oz Zehavi and Assaf Ben Shimon star. But these two films face competition from Avishai Sivan’s The Wanderer, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s about an ultra- Orthodox young man who delves into some of his family’s secrets.

Other films in this category include Itai Lev’s Sea Salt, which stars Liat Glick in a story about a young actress; Doron Tsabari’s Revolution 101, a semi-documentary look at the struggles in Israeli public broadcasting; and veteran director Dan Wolman’s Gei-Oni, a historical epic set in Palestine at the end of the 19th century. There are also two dystopian allegories, Assaf Tager’s Andante, starring Sarah Adler as a woman living in a world where human beings can no longer sleep, and actor Moshe Ivgy’s debut as director, And On the Third Day, which stars Hila Feldman in a story of a violent future world.

In the equally strong Israeli Documentary category, Yael Hersonski’s A Film Unfinished looks at the truth behind a Nazi propaganda film about the Warsaw Ghetto.

Shlomi Eldar’s Precious Life chronicles the struggle of a Palestinian mother and an Israeli pediatrician to get treatment for her baby, who suffers from a genetic disease.

The Panorama selection features some American independents, including Tiny Furniture by Lena Dunham, who will be attending the festival. Al Pacino stars as Jack Kevorkian in Barry Levinson’s You Don’t Know Jack. Argentinian director Daniel Burman’s Brother and Sister is another of his low-key family dramas. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was the surprise winner of the Palme d’Or this year at the Cannes Film Festival, and was directed by Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Zhang Yimou remakes the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple in medieval China in A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop.

The In the Spirit of Freedom Competition, which was inspired by the life work of Jerusalem Cinematheque and Jerusalem Film Festival Founder Lia van Leer’s late husband, Wim, features movies from the Middle East and around the world. Julia Bacha’s Budrus looks at Palestinian non-violent resistance.

Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats looks at the underground rock music scene in Teheran.

The much-discussed film The Infidel, starring Richard Schiff, which tells the story of a London Muslim who discovers he is adopted and actually was born Jewish, is one of the films in The Jewish Experience category.

Wang Genfa’s A Jewish Girl in Shanghai is an animated cartoon that tells the story of a Jewish refugee in World War II-era Shanghai and is reportedly the first Chinese film to discuss the Holocaust. The Yiddish film, Singing in the Dark, features Moishe Oysher as a man trying to forget his tragic past.

The Rendez-Vous program of French films features 88-year-old Alain Resnais’ latest, Les Herbes Folles, starring Sabine Azema and Mathieu Amalric in a story of a love affair that starts by chance.

Several programs of classic films include a tribute to Marcello Mastroianni and a showing of the Fellini film, La Dolce Vita, a look at a lonely paparazzo that may be more relevant today than when it was first released.

For information and to buy tickets, go to the festival Website at or call 02-565-4350.

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