‘I fell in love with the whole idea of a film festival for kids and young teens
when I was taking my movie around the world,” says Omri Levy, the director of
the 3rd International Film Festival for Children and Youth at the Jerusalem
Cinematheque, which runs from August 15-19.
Levy, who works as the
academic director at the Ma’aleh Film School in Jerusalem, directed the film
Miss Entebbe in 2003. He accompanied this award-winning film, which is about a
group of children reacting to ˆa terror attack, to many international festivals
and returned convinced that there was a place for a festival of high-quality
films for children in Israel.
Particularly impressed by the Generation
Section at the Berlin International Film Festival, where Miss Entebbe
Special Mention, Levy returned to the festival this year in search of films for
this summer’s Jerusalem festival.
“About 50 percent of the films in our
festival, I found at the Berlin festival,” he says. These films are not only
from Germany but also from all over the world, since the festival here features
movies from New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France and the United
States, as well as Israel. There will be a few bigbudget Hollywood films, such
as Toy Story 3
, Despicable Me
and Nanny McPhee 2
, but Levy is most excited about
the films children won’t be able to see elsewhere.
of the commercial films out there are American. But the films in the festival
are from all over the world,” says Levy “My belief is that kids are very
intelligent,” says the father of four. “I realized as I was looking for films
that I wasn’t looking for kid’s films but for excellent movies that are suitable
There are programs for children of all ages, but Levy
emphasizes that all the films for younger children are dubbed in
Levy is certain that audiences will enjoy Yuki and Nina
, a French
film directed by Hippolyte Giradot and Nobuhiro Suwa, about a Japanese girl who
moves to France and befriends a French girl, then has to return to Japan when
her parents separate.
Another film Levy recommends is Boy
, a film from
New Zealand about a boy who has grown up without his father and conjures up all
kinds of fantasies about him.The Magic Tree
is a film based on the
award-winning Polish children’s television series. Levy notes that the festival
has shown episodes from the series in the past, which were popular with kids
There are also three short programs of films for children three and
up, seven and up, and 12 and over.
All film festivals feature
competitions, and this one is no exception. There are two competitions for short
films. One is for films by student filmmakers intended for children, which will
be judged by a jury of seven children from the Jerusalem area, ages six to 13.
This competition will award the winning directors prizes totaling NIS 13,000.
“The jury will be varied, with boys and girls, religious kids and secular,”
The other competition is for films made by Jerusalem high
school students. The winners will receive prizes including filmmaking equipment,
a gift certificate to the Third Ear DVD store and a year’s pass for the
A number of workshops will be held and, like the
films in the festival, they will be geared to different age groups. Some will
continue during the year as well.
Children seven and up should be riveted
by a workshop led by Eitan Rodik, a movie special effects expert and stuntman.
Participants will watch film clips, learn how the effects are done, and then
recreate some of them.
Levy has also programmed a classic film, Charlie
Chaplin’s The Circus
. After the screening, comedian Guri Alfi will lead a
discussion on what audiences find funny in movies. The event is sponsored by the
editors of Einayim
magazine. Another one of the workshops will be on the art of
dubbing, which should be of interest to young viewers, since most of the films
and cartoons they see are dubbed. Actress Anat Nin, who does much of the dubbing
in Israel (she is the voice of the Israeli Marge Simpson), will lead the
workshop, in which kids and their parents will have a chance to dub films
“We had a lot of sell-outs in previous years,” says Levy,
emphasizing that it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance. Most of the films
cost NIS 39, and many feature a child-and-parent combination special for NIS
Some of the short programs and competitions are NIS 25, while a few
of the workshops cost between NIS 40- 50.
While some parents end up
taking their children to work at the end of the summer, what does the director
of a film festival do? “The two older children will be at the festival,” says
Levy, adding that he frequently gets advice from his children. “Sometimes they
tell me that things I think are interesting are boring. And when I see it with
an audience, it turns out they’re right. The festival is their summer
camp.”For more information, visit the festival Web site at