Front runners

A fine crop of Israeli films is on the roster for coming year, including 'Fill the Void,' '5 Broken Cameras,' 'The Congress.'

FIll the Void (photo credit: Courtesy)
FIll the Void
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli movie lovers have a lot to look forward to in the coming year.
Some of Israel’s most acclaimed directors have movies coming out, and there are also movies by promising newcomers coming up.
In late December, the various critics’ awards will be announced. There are different rules for each award, but it’s possible that movies that have played at film festivals (but have not yet opened commercially) will pick up prizes, including Rama Burshtein’s acclaimed drama of haredi life, Fill the Void.
The short list for the Best Foreign Language Oscar nominees will be announced in early January, and many Oscar predictors are betting that Fill the Void will make the cut.
Then, by January 10, the final five nominees will be announced, along with all the other categories.
Israel also has a chance of getting a nomination in the Best Documentary category, which has a similar selection process to the Best Foreign Language Film category. The short list for Best Doc has already been announced, and two Israeli films are on it: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s 5 Broken Cameras, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers (which is playing commercially in certain American cities), about the Mossad.
Both The Gatekeepers and Fill the Void will be shown in the Spotlight section of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which runs from January 17–27.
Joseph Cedar, whose films Beaufort and Footnote have both received Oscar nominations, won’t have a new film out this year. The director is writing a new screenplay but isn’t sharing any details yet.
In March, get ready for Eytan Fox’s latest film, Bananot, about a group of friends in Tel Aviv in the 1970s who write a song for an international song contest. Fox has had an extremely prolific two years: His previous feature, Yossi, a sequel to Yossi & Jagger, was released here last spring. In January, Yossi will be coming out in France on 30 screens, as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. While in Hollywood, directors used to churn out a feature a year, in Israel it is extremely rare, and most filmmakers here release movies only every three or four years.
Audiences who have been waiting even longer for The Congress, Ari Folman’s follow-up to his 2008 Golden Globe-winning Waltz with Bashir, may finally get satisfaction.
An adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s science-fiction novel, The Congress now has a tentative 2013 release date. The film, which uses animated versions of actors Harvey Keitel, Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Danny Huston and Frances Fisher, tells the story of an aging actress (Wright) who creates a younger-looking clone of herself to keep her career going. The film was included on many most-anticipated lists, including the Internet Movie Database’s list of the most awaited films of the coming year.
Avi Nesher’s The Wonders will hit theaters in June. This film will be a change of pace for Nesher, as it will combine animation and live action.
The film stars Adir Miller (who won the Ophir Award for Best Actor for his performance in Nesher’s previous film, The Matchmaker) in a noir fantasy/thriller set in contemporary Jerusalem. Nesher co-wrote it with Shanan Street, the frontman for the band HaDag Nahash. It’s the first collaboration for Nesher and Street, and you can expect some intense visuals and music, along with an unusual story.
Another film set to be released in 2013 is Yariv Mozer’s first feature film, Snails in the Rain. Mozer is known for several acclaimed documentaries, including The Invisible Men, about gay Palestinians living in Tel Aviv, which won the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Snails stars Armani model Yoav Reuveni as a graduate student who finds himself stalked by an in-the-closet gay man. Moran Rosenblatt, who was the stand-out in last year’s Lipstikka, plays his girlfriend.