The real fun - and the point - of attending festivals is to see movies you would never find anyplace else.

hannah brown 88 (photo credit: )
hannah brown 88
(photo credit: )
There are about 200 films in this year's Jerusalem Film Festival, which runs from July 6-15, so even critics who go every day can only see a small fraction. Of course, I will be there for the opening film, an adaptation of David Grossman's Someone to Run With, directed by Oded Davidoff. And I certainly won't miss the latest film by festival Life Achievement Award Winner Roman Polanski - a new and highly praised version of Oliver Twist. I'll also try to see the latest films by other big names, such as festival guest Chen Kaige, whose newest feature, The Promise, has won raves around the world. And of course I'll go to as many of the Israeli films as I can, especially the short ones (to see the star directors of tomorrow at work). But the real fun - and the point - of attending festivals is to see movies you would never find anyplace else. With so many films and so little time, here (in no particular order) are a few of the films I'm putting on my "must-see" list: 1. Marock - It's been called Casablanca 90210. Directed by Laila Marrakchi, it tells the story of a rebellious young woman from a Moroccan Muslim family who falls in love with a wealthy Jewish young man. It sounds both exotic and familiar at the same time. 2. The Gronholm Method - Marcelo Pinero's look at corporate competition in Madrid. I loved his last movie, Kamchatka - a portrait of a left-wing Argentine family on the run from the military junta in the Seventies. It deserved a bigger audience than it got. 3. Waiting - The latest film by Rashid Masharawi, whose work I first saw at the Jerusalem Cinematheque over a decade ago. Masharawi is a rarity - a Palestinian filmmaker from a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Most Palestinian filmmakers are either Israeli Arabs or from relatively well-to-do families in the West Bank. But Masharawi is not merely a curiosity; even his earliest short films showed real directing talent. Waiting is about a director who comes home to Gaza for his father's funeral and becomes involved with a theater project there. 4. Thank You for Smoking - OK, this mainstream American comedy will undoubtedly open shortly throughout Israel, but it's a rare comedy in a lineup that leans toward heavier dramatic fare. Aaron Eckhart stars in this adaptation of Christopher Buckley's politically incorrect bestseller. Bonus: Katie Holmes, before she became a sacred vessel for Tom Cruise's child, co-stars. 5. Vers le Sud - Charlotte Rampling stars in Laurent Cante's story of a group of white female tourists visiting Haiti in the Seventies, looking for romance with local young men. 6. Little Heroes - Itai Lev's look at how four oddball kids bond on a kibbutz. It's an offbeat movie about a place where not fitting in is especially rough. 7. Day Night Day Night - Julia Loktev's feature about a young female terrorist won the Director's Fortnight Prize at this year's Cannes. 8. 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep - Director Ben Hopkins made the brilliant film Simon Magus about blood libel in a shtetl, and was one of two directors with the guts to show up for the British Film Season here in 2001. If that doesn't earn a little loyalty from Jerusalem Filmfest audiences, I don't know what does. His latest is a documentary about a tribe of herders who have wandered the globe for centuries and now live in Turkey. 9. A Little Trip to Heaven - What's a film festival without a movie from Iceland? Baltsasar Kormakur, who gave us the bizarre 101 Reyjkaviik, is back with a story of an insurance investigator (Forest Whitaker) in Minnesota who gets mixed up with a murder case. 10. Three Times - Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien has been hailed as one of the world's greatest filmmakers. Three Times features love stories set in three different periods. Festival director Lia van Leer describes it as "a beautiful film." If none of these films grabs you, there's sure to be something, somewhere in the program for you. Keep in mind, though, that no matter how esoteric a movie may sound, there's still a chance that it will sell out, so don't wait until the last minute to get your tickets.