The Israeli Film Festival in Paris

 Karaoke movie screenshot (photo credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
Karaoke movie screenshot

The festival is gradually becoming a flagship event in Paris cinema and attracts extensive media exposure.

This year, the 23rd Paris Israeli Film Festival took place in March at the cozy DULAC cinema in the 16th arrondissement. It is a high-quality festival that offers excellent visibility into the local cultural scene. The opening event took place in a packed hall with more than 300 seats.  

The festival was opened by Vered Heller, Israel's cultural attaché in France, who offered greetings to festival goers, followed by the guest of honour, actor and filmmaker Yvan Attal (French-Jewish actor and film director, born in Israel, winner of the César Prize and spouse of Charlotte Gainsbourg), and director and screenwriter Moshe Rosenthal, whose film "Karaoke" was supported by the Israel Film Fund, and was screened as an opening film.  The audience was very interested in both the film and the director.

'Karaoke' movie poster (Credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
'Karaoke' movie poster (Credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)

Nominated for 13 Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and winner of the Audience Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Karaoke stars Israeli superstars Lior Ashkenazi & Sasson Gabay in a bittersweet comedy about a married middle-class suburban couple who are drawn to their new neighbor, a charismatic bachelor who has karaoke evenings at his apartment. Meir (Sasson Gabay, star of The Band's Visit) and Tova (Rita Shukrun) are a Sephardic, upper-middle-class couple, seemingly resigned to live out the rest of their semi-retirement in the banal comforts of an upscale apartment complex in a Tel Aviv suburb. When Itsik (Lior Ashkenazi, also at MJFF 2023 with his film "Perfect Strangers"), a sexy bachelor from Miami, moves into the building's penthouse, their lives are gleefully upended. Energized by their newfound friendship with Itsik, Meir and Tova undergo personal transformations, but will their relationship as a couple be a casualty of expressing their individual desires? When Itsik begins to pull away from Meir and Tova, the couple's obsession with the bachelor grows into a full-blown identity crisis. Joyous and poignant all at once, Karaoke is an optimistic portrait of midlife self-discovery, laced with both wisdom and barbed humor. 

Other films shown at the festival included:

  • The Good Person (Director, Eitan Aner)
  • Children of Nobody (Director, Erez Tadmor)
  • Judas (Director, Dan Wolman)
  • America (Ophir Raul Graizer)
  • My Neighbor Adolf (Director, Leon Prudovsky)
  • Savoy (Zohar Wagner)
  • Grossman (Director, Adi Arbel)
  • Dead Sea Guardians (Directors, Ido Glass, Yoav Kleinman)
  • The festival's closing film was "Downhill 35," directed by Yona Rozenkier.

"Downhill 35," also produced with the support of the Israel Film Fund and co-produced with Switzerland, tells the story of an unemployed and depressed husband, who goes with his wife and son to visit his childhood kibbutz in the north. He plans to ask his sick and drunk father, Albert, with whom he has little connection, to help him claim the lost family apartment in Poland. But Albert has other plans. He had just placed a bet while drunk, in front of half the kibbutz, that he could drive a tractor all the way to Eilat. The film received a positive response from festival viewers.

35 Downhill movie (Credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
35 Downhill movie (Credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
'Barren' movies poster
'Barren' movies poster

After most films, Q and A sessions were held with the film's creator or actor. Among the actors in attendance were Dan Wolman from "Judas," Eitan Aner from "The Good Person," Michael Moshonov, star of the film "America," Adi Arbel o "Grossman" and Yael Perlov and Rabbi Mordechai Vardi, whose film "Barren" won the Audience Choice Award.

Created with the support of the Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts and the Galil Film Fund, "Barren" tells the story of a childless young ultra-orthodox couple that faces a crisis after a traumatic treatment for infertility. When the difference between good and evil is unclear, the family must deal with unresolved secrets that raise fundamental questions about religion and faith.

Before the screening of each film, Helen Shulman, the festival director, showed a short film selected from the best Israeli films. At the opening of the festival, the film "Wedding in Jerusalem" by Renen Schorr, filmmaker and former director of the Sam Spiegel Film School, who was in attendance, was shown.  

This article is powered by Ministry of Foreign Affairs