Two films by Palestinian women win top prizes at Haifa

This year’s festival drew big crowds.

October 25, 2016 22:07
2 minute read.
ACTORS MAHMOUD SHAWAHDEH (right) and Sana Shawahdeh pose with producer Baher Agbariya (left) after w

ACTORS MAHMOUD SHAWAHDEH (right) and Sana Shawahdeh pose with producer Baher Agbariya (left) after winning Best Feature Israeli Film for ‘Personal Affairs’ at the Haifa Film Festival.. (photo credit: GALIT ROSEN)

Two films by Palestinian women directors, Maha Haj’s Personal Affairs and Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between, won the top awards in the Israeli Feature Film competition at the 32nd Haifa International Film Festival, which ended on Monday.

The Haifa Cultural Fund Award for the Best Israeli Feature Film, which comes with a prize of NIS 100,000, went to Haj’s Personal Affairs, a quirky comedy-drama about an Israeli-Arab family in Nazareth and Ramallah that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last spring.

The Danny Lerner Award for a Debut Feature Film, with a NIS 50,000 prize, was given to In Between, directed by Maysaloun Hamoud. The movie is about three young Muslim women who share an apartment in Tel Aviv and try to fit in but also stay true to their own culture. It was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

Haj lives in Nazareth, while Hamoud is a resident of Tel Aviv, and both women are Israeli citizens. I don’t remember any Palestinian women directors having features in the Israeli competition at Haifa before, let alone winning it. And if anyone should imagine that these prizes are some attempt at political correctness, I would advise them to see these accomplished, crowd-pleasing movies as soon as they are released. In Between also won the Audience Award and the Fedeora European Critics Award for Artistic Achievement in an Israeli feature.

The Script Award in Collaboration with the Scriptwriters’ Guild for NIS 10,000 went to Eitan Anner for A Quiet Heart, about a pianist who tutors an ultra-Orthodox boy.

The Producer Michael Shvili Award for Best Actor in a Feature Film, with an NIS 10,000 prize, went to Norman Issa and Moshe Ivgy for The 90 Minute War, a comedy about settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a soccer match, by Eyal Halfon.

The Producer Michael Shvili Award for Best Actress in a Feature Film, also with an NIS 10,000 prize, went to the actress Noa Koler for her performance as an ultra-Orthodox woman who wants to marry in Rama Burshtein’s Through the Wall.

The Rozalia Katz Award for Best Documentary Film (NIS 30,000) went to the film Lillian.Poetess by Ilan Peled and Yair Qedar. A special mention went to Lina Chaplin’s The Octettes and Eytan Harris’ Sulha.

The Carmel Award for Best Film in the International Competition (NIS 40,000), sponsored by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, went to The Distinguished Citizen (Spain/Argentina), by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, with a special mention for Insight (Russia) by Alexandr Kott.

In the Between Jewish and Israeli Identity competition, the Tobias Spencer Award (NIS 20,000) was awarded to Night Song (France/Canada) by French/Israeli director Raphaël Nadjari. A special mention award in this category went to Scarred Hearts (Romania/Germany) by Radu Jude.

In the Golden Anchor competition, for films from countries that border the Mediterranean, the Golden Anchor Award for Best Film (NIS 40,000) prize went to the Turkish film Cold of Kalandar, by Mustafa Kara. A special mention went to the Turkish film Clair Obscure by Yesim Ustaoglu.

Cold of Calendar also won Fedeora European Critics Award.

This year’s festival drew big crowds.

A number of the movies shown there, among them the opening-night movie, Like Crazy, and Avi Nesher’s closing- night movie, Past Life, have just opened here or will be opening soon.

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