Eytan Fox's sequel 'Yossi'.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Eytan Fox, one of Israel’s most acclaimed directors, has a new film premiering
at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan this week, which started on April 18
and runs until April 29. Fox’s Yossi is the opening night attraction in the
World Narrative Film Competition, and this screening is also its world
Yossi is the sequel to his 2002 film Yossi & Jagger and is
the director’s first feature film since the 2006 movie The Bubble. Yossi picks
up 10 years after Yossi & Jagger ended. Ohad Knoller, who won the Best Actor
Award at Tribeca in 2003 for his work in the original film, returns as Yossi,
who was a closeted gay soldier in that film and is now a Tel Aviv doctor. He
still hasn’t come out, though, and he finds himself pining for
When he meets a middle-aged woman (Orly Silbersatz Banai, who
starred in Nir Bergman’s Broken Wings and Intimate Grammar) who reminds him of
the time he spent with Jagger, he begins to look at the world differently.
Leaving Tel Aviv, he ends up on a road trip south with a group of soldiers and
finds himself becoming close to Tom (Oz Zehavi, who starred in Dover
Kosashvilli’s Infiltration, as well as the television series Asfur).
Ashkenazi, who starred in Fox’s 2004 film Walk on Water (and costarred in Joseph
Cedar’s acclaimed Footnote), has a small role.
Clips from the film look
promising. While it’s unusual for a dramatic film to have a sequel, Fox has
clear reasons for wanting to revisit this character and tell more of his story.
The director says that he wanted to show “how Israel has changed. Yossi is still
suffering from the trauma of losing his love, and he’s having a tough time. But
then he meets this young soldier who is completely comfortable with his
sexuality, and it changes him, too.”
When we spoke about Yossi, Fox, who
was born in New York to American parents who moved to Israel, declined to give
away too many details of the plot, but he admitted that in the decade since the
65-minute made-for-TV Yossi & Jagger became a breakaway international hit,
his working methods have changed. “I used to always have one project, one thing
at a time, that I was working on.”
Now, though, partly due to the
economic climate and partly because of new opportunities that have opened up for
him, Fox usually has a few different ideas he works on, both for films and
television. He last hit the festival circuit with Mary Lou, a television series
about a young man looking for his mother who finds his way to the drag-club
scene in Tel Aviv. The series made the rounds of Jewish, Israeli and gay film
festivals around the world.
Two other notable films from Israel will be
shown at Tribeca this year. Last summer at the Jerusalem Film Festival, the film
that got the most buzz was Arnon Goldfinger’s documentary The Flat. It starts
off when Goldfinger’s grandmother dies and he starts clearing out her Tel Aviv
apartment, which leads him to uncover some shocking family
Sharon Bar-Ziv’s feature film debut, Room 514, will have its
North American premiere at the festival. Bar-Ziv, who has worked in the past as
a screenwriter, made a movie about a topic that could have been taken from
today’s headlines: alleged brutality charges against a senior IDF officer. The
film follows the officer’s interrogation and looks at much of the story from the
point of view of an idealistic female military interrogator who refuses to back
off, even when colleagues urge her to do so.
The Tribeca Film Festival
was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. In the
aftermath of the 9/11 attack in 2001, they decided that a large and lively film
festival would help revitalize downtown New York City. In contrast to the more
staid New York Film Festival, which features about 30 films and no awards, the
Tribeca Film Festival has hundreds of films and quite a few prizes. The Israeli
film My Father My Lord by David Volach won the Best Narrative Feature Award at
Tribeca in 2007, and a number of other Israeli features and documentaries have
won prizes there over the years.