Cinefile: Honing their craft

Student filmmakers take to Tel Aviv streets, buses and theaters.

Eytan Fox (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eytan Fox
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One of the most anticipated events on the Israeli film scene is the International Student Film Festival, Tel Aviv. Held every two years, it will start this year on June 2 and run through June 9. This is the 14th edition of the festival and, as always, it will be run by film students at Tel Aviv University. It will feature hundreds of student films, by Israeli and foreign directors, master classes and meetings with internationally known filmmakers, competitions and gala screenings of upcoming films.
Elad Goldman and Erez Bernholz, the directors of the festival, are very aware of the political and social context of this year’s festival, in light of the uprisings in neighboring countries and the social protests in Tel Aviv last year, and they promise a “thought-provoking” week.
Among the guests this year will be directors, producers, screenwriters and academics. Paolo Sorrentino, whose very original indie road movie This Must Be the Place starring Sean Penn is now showing throughout Israel, will give a workshop called What Is Your Genre? In this workshop, he will tackle questions about his own penchant for unconventional storytelling. There will also be a retrospective of his short films.
Although everyone has heard of Bollywood by now, not many people may know that Nigeria has one of the busiest film industries in the world.
Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen is one of Nollywood’s premier directors. He will be present at screenings of his film Adesuwa and will speak about the Nigerian film industry.
The most mainstream of American directors, John G. Avildsen, who won an Oscar for Rocky, will present a screening of his film Karate Kid.
Many new short films are now first presented on the Internet, and Amir Blumenfeld and Jake Hurwitz, who are among the founders of the very successful and extraordinarily funny website CollegeHumor, will give a workshop on producing comedy shorts for the Web.
Marc Nicolas, the director of La Femia Film School in France, will host a tribute to the school.
Danis Tanovic, a Bosnian director and politician who made the Oscar-winning No Man’s Land, will present his latest short and give a master class.
Romanian director Sinisa Dragin will present his latest film, If the Seed Doesn’t Die, and will give a workshop on directing actors. Also from Romania, screenwriter Razvan Radulescu, who wrote The Death of Mr. Lazarus, will give a workshop on time in screenplays.
Gyorgi Palfi of Hungary, best known for Taxidermia, will give a master class on experimental films.
Perhaps the highest profile of the gala screenings will be Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film, The Dictator, in which he plays the unhinged title character. The movie, which has received mostly positive reviews abroad, will undoubtedly be watched with more interest, given the fast-changing news events in the Middle East. The film will open all over Israel next week.
Among the dozens of special events associated with the festival is the The Film Bus, a bus equipped with a huge screen that literally brought cinema to the periphery, traveling throughout May to Degania, Umm al-Fahm, Karmiel, Lod, Srigim Li-on, Mitzpe Ramon and Dimona. There, film students participated in local activities and screened films.
The Days of Rebellion is a series of films that will be screened at the Beit Ha’am Cinema at 69 Rothschild Boulevard, the unofficial cinema of the protest tent movement that started last summer.
Described as a social-political cinematheque, Beit Ha’am will show cult films that encourage social protest, such as Lindsay Anderson’s If. . . , a look at a rebellion at a British boarding school, or Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool, which stars Robert Forster (Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown) as a cameraman who gets more and more involved in the events he is covering.
The 14th International Student Film Festival also marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Film and Television.
Several events will reunite hundreds of TAU’s alumni, who are currently leaders in Israel’s television and film industry, including Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir) and Eytan Fox (Yossi, Walk on Water).
There will also be pitching events, where aspiring filmmakers get to pitch their ideas to film industry professionals from around the world, as well as a new media forum.
For more information and to order tickets, go to the festival website at