Local pride

Israeli films to watch all over the world – and at home.

May 1, 2014 17:26
3 minute read.

‘ZERO MOTIVATION’. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The big news in the Israeli film world last week was that Talya Lavie’s film Zero Motivation won the top award for feature films at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Israeli audiences can look forward to seeing the movie at their local theaters on June 26.

The movie, Lavie’s feature film debut, is a comic and dramatic look at female soldiers. It stars Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy. The latter appeared in Lavie’s 2006 short film Lonely Soldier, also about women in the army, which won prizes around the world and competed at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It just goes to show that it’s a good idea to attend the short film competition at the Jerusalem Film Festival because that’s where the stars of tomorrow can be found.

Zero Motivation is now the most successful of a handful of films about women in the IDF, although there is no shortage of movies about male Israeli soldiers.

Nadav Schirman’s documentary The Green Prince, about a Hamas member who became an informant for Israel, won the Audience Award in the World Cinema-Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It will be shown at Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Festival, which runs from May 8 to 17 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. It will then open in theaters in Israel on May 16.

Although this year there is no Israeli film in the main competition at Cannes, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival, which runs this year from May 14 to 25, a trio of Israel’s most celebrated female directors will show their latest movies in other categories there.

Keren Yedaya became the first Israeli director to win the Camera d’Or Prize at Cannes with her debut feature, Or, in 2004. This year, she will be back at the same festival in the Un Certain Regard category with her latest film, Away from His Absence. The film is about an adult woman who continues to have a relationship with the father who raped her.

Shira Geffen co-directed and co-wrote Jellyfish, the 2007 movie that became the second Israeli film to win the Camera d’Or, with her husband, author Etgar Keret. This year, she will be at the Cannes Critics’ week with her first solo directorial effort, aptly titled Self Made. The film stars Sarah Adler and Samira Sayara as two women who end up living each other’s lives on opposite sides of the Green Line after a mix-up at a checkpoint.

Actress Ronit Elkabetz and her brother Shlomi Elkabetz, who teamed up to write and direct two previous films loosely based on their family, To Take a Wife (2004) and Shiva (2008), have a new film in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. It’s called Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem. From the title, it’s clear that it continues the story of the unhappy wife and mother that Ronit Elkabetz played in the previous two movies.

Israel’s token male director at Cannes will be Nadav Lapid, whose first feature was Policeman (2011).

Lapid’s latest film, The Kindergarten Teacher, will also be shown at the Critics’ Week. Lapid made this film with a production grant from the Jerusalem International Film Lab at the Sam Spiegel School for Film and Television, Jerusalem.

After Cannes, some of these films will likely be shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which runs from July 10 to 20.

In addition, the first feature by Philippe Lacote of the Ivory Coast, Run, which was also made with a grant from the Jerusalem Film Lab, will be shown in the Critics’ Week.

If you happen to find yourself in Cannes on May 20, drop by the Producers Club in the early evening to attend the second annual Jerusalem Happy Hour, sponsored by Sam Spiegel International Film Lab, the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Jerusalem Film Fund. There can be no clearer indication of how Israeli movies have become a force to be reckoned with on the international movie scene.

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