Fill the Void.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Some of the year’s most hotly anticipated Israeli films will compete in
the Haifa International Film Festival this year, which will take place
from September 29 to October 8. The festival will showcase 60 recent
locally made films, including eight feature films, 10 documentaries and
28 short movies. Several of these films are nominated for multiple Ophir
Awards, so one of them may become Israel’s next nominee for the Best
Foreign Film Oscar.
Perhaps no film has aroused as much curiosity as Rama Burstein’s Fill the Void.
This film was slated to have its premiere at the Jerusalem Film
Festival in July, but then it was accepted into the extremely
prestigious Venice Film Festival.
The organizers of that festival asked Burstein to choose between Jerusalem and Venice, and she chose the European film festival.
The choice was understandable, since Venice is one of the most important festivals in the world.
However, the real problem with the choice was that she was forced to make it at all. Shmuelik Maoz’s Lebanon,
which was shown at the Jerusalem film fest in 2009, went on to win the
top prize at Venice that year, and that didn’t seem to present a problem
In any case, Burstein’s film is also being shown at
the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.
The mere fact that it has been included in so many festivals is enough
to raise expectations. Fill the Void
the story of a young haredi woman who is promised in an arranged
marriage. But when her sister dies suddenly, her own plans to marry
start to fall apart. Burstein, a graduate of the Sam Spiegel School for
Film in Jerusalem nearly 20 years ago, became ultra- Orthodox herself
after finishing her studies. Fill the Void
is her first feature film, and she has said in interviews that she felt
very strongly that previous films about the haredi community had
painted a false picture.
Idan Hubel’s The Cut-Off Man
is another film that was withdrawn from the Jerusalem Film Festival
when it was accepted at Venice. It stars Moshe Ivgy as a worker at the
water company, which has to cut off water to people’s apartments when
they don’t pay their bills.
Hiam Abbass, the well-known Palestinian actress who starred in the films The Syrian Bride
and Lemon Tree
, is making her directorial debut with Inheritance.
in an Arab village in the Galilee during the Second Lebanon War, the
film is about the conflicts that affect a family that gathers to
celebrate a wedding.
Abbass stars in the film, and the rest of
the cast reads like a Who’s Who of the most distinguished Palestinian
actors: Ashraf Barhoum (Clash of the Titans
); Makram and Clara Khoury, a father and daughter who co-starred in The Syrian Bride; Ali Suliman (Body of Lies, Lemon Tree
); and Yussuf Abu- Warda (from the television series The Arbitrator
In a 2008 interview I did with her prior to the opening of Lemon Tree,
Abbass said she very much wanted to direct and was working on a number
of scripts. She has also had a very successful acting career abroad and
gave an especially memorable performance as a Syrian woman in New York
in the 2007 film The Visitor
Yevgeny Roman’s Igor and the Cranes’ Journey
tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who moves from Moscow to Israel with his mother.
His father, a bird researcher from whom Igor has been estranged for years, stays behind in Russia.
Father and son begin following the migration of a flock of cranes via the Internet. It stars Menashe Noy.
Aner Preminger’s Present Continuous
is about a stressed-out Jerusalem mother who locks up her family one afternoon during the second intifada.Room 514
is a tense drama directed by Sharon Ben-Ziv about a female IDF officer
interrogating a male commander about a breach of ethics he has
Michal Meir’s Alta
and Yonatan Gurfinkel’s Six Times
will also compete for Best Feature Film.
Among the films in the Documentary Competition will be Anat Zuria’s latest film, The Lesson
Zuria’s previous documentaries, such as Sentenced to Marriage
and The Black Bus
, tackled controversial issues concerning women and religion.For more information about films in the Haifa International Film Festival, go to the festival website at haifaff.co.il