Israeli films take four early prizes at Cannes

Two Israeli films each claimed two prizes over the weekend at the world's most prestigious film festival.

cannes 88 (photo credit: )
cannes 88
(photo credit: )
Their films aren't in contention for the coveted Palme d'Or, but Israeli filmmakers have already ensured they won't return home empty-handed from the 60th Cannes International Film Festival. Two Israeli films each claimed two prizes over the weekend at the world's most prestigious film festival, honored by a combination of critics, student directors and French filmmakers. Bikur Hatizmoret (The Band's Visit), a comic drama about an official visit by an Egyptian police band to Israel in the 1990s, earned honors from Fipresci, the International Federation of Film Critics, and the Cinefil prize, an award decided by student filmmakers at the Cannes Festival. A French-Israeli co-production, The Band's Visit was written and directed by Israeli filmmaker Eran Kolirin and its cast includes actors Sasson Gabai and Ronit Elkabetz - the winner of two awards at the 2004 Venice Film Festival and a regular in recent years in French-Israeli co-productions. A second Israeli film, Meduzot (Jellyfish), a tale of three Tel Aviv women written by Shira Geffen, took two additional prizes over the weekend. Meduzot is author and screenwriter Etgar Keret's second film as director and first in 10 years. The film received awards from the Societe de Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, a French creative arts group, and from a young critics' group participating in the festival. Israel's four awards at Cannes follow the unexpected triumph earlier this year of another Israeli film, Beaufort, at the Berlin International Film Festival. Nominated for best picture in the German capital, the film earned a Silver Bear prize for its American-born, Israeli-raised director, Joseph Cedar. The 2007 Cannes Film Festival concludes Sunday with the awarding of the Palme d'Or. Films in the running for that prize include My Blueberry Nights, a road trip movie co-starring Jude Law, Norah Jones and Jerusalem-born actress Natalie Portman, and Persepolis, an animated film based on Mariane Satrapi's graphic novel about her childhood in Teheran after Iran's Islamic Revolution.