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Director Eytan Fox, who made Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water and The Bubble, and his producer and life partner Gal Uchovsky will be making a new film, the working title of which is Gad. It's based on the memoirs of Gad Beck, a young Jewish homosexual who lived in Berlin during World War II (he wasn't sent to a concentration camp because his mother was a Christian who converted to Judaism). Beck was involved in helping Jews escape Germany. The film will be made in Germany, and is being produced by X-Filme, a prominent German production company that made Run, Lola, Run. Fox and Uchovsky dealt with the Holocaust in Walk on Water, in which a Mossad agent is assigned to befriend the grandson of a notorious Nazi to get information on the Nazi's whereabouts.
Uchovsky told me he and Fox are currently at work on the script, and will be casting in the summer. The film will be in English, with a German, American and Israeli cast.
THIS MONTH, the Jerusalem Cinematheque is hosting two distinguished guests. Venerable director Claude Lelouch is here to mark the opening of his 49th film, Roman de Gare - an enjoyable, twisty murder mystery starring Fanny Ardant. He will be present at a screening tonight at 9:30 of his 1966 classic, A Man and a Woman, starring Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant, which still defines glamor and romance for many. Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, whose film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a hard-hitting drama about abortion, won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year, was at the Cinematheque earlier this week for his film's Israeli premiere. The film, which opens next week throughout the country, tells the story of a woman who helps her friend get an illegal abortion during the Eighties, when the procedure was banned.
Also at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Bob Dylan fans can get an early glimpse of the Todd Haynes Dylan bio, I'm Not There, on Sunday at 10 p.m. The unconventional biopic features six different actors, including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Richard Gere, portraying the legendary singer/songwriter at different phases in his career. The movie opens across Israel on January 3.
IN THIS banner year for Israeli films, Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit continues to triumph all over the world. It has just opened in the US and received glowing reviews. V.A. Musetto of the New York Post, who never throws stars around, gave it three and a half (out of four). In a review headlined, "Mideast Tale Israeli Funny" (say it out loud), he wrote: "Forget all those high-profile movies opening this weekend; The Band's Visit is the one to see." Just for the record, among the movies that opened in New York last week were such Oscar bait as Atonement starring Keira Knightley, the Sundance favorite Grace is Gone with John Cusack as the widower of a female US soldier slain in Iraq, and Juno, the teen pregnancy/adoption drama with rising star Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner (Alias).
Musetto, who has long admired the work of Band's star Ronit Elkabetz, summarizes her appeal brilliantly, saying that in this movie, Elkabetz "sizzles in an offbeat way - a mix of Cher and Vampira, if you wish." (He wrote this without even having seen the Cher-like outfits she wears to the Ophir Awards.) He goes on to say: "I'd even bet that the film will take the foreign-language Oscar, except it was rejected as Israel's official nominee. The bureaucrats in Hollywood ruled that it wasn't eligible because 50% of the dialogue is in English, as opposed to Arabic and Hebrew. (Did they use a stopwatch?) No wonder a lot of people don't take the Oscars seriously."
Speaking of awards, the Independent Spirit Award nominations have come out and The Band's Visit has snagged a Best Foreign Film nomination, in a year of heavy competition. It's up against 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the Romanian film that took the top prize at Cannes, Persepolis, the animated feature about Iran, the highly praised French Lady Chatterley, and the charming Irish love story, Once. These awards are arguably the most important indie awards, aside from Sundance. The winners will be announced on February 23, the day before the Academy Award ceremony. The Independent Spirit awards are a kind of antidote to the Oscar hype; they only recognize low-budget independent films.
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