Cinefile: Israelis at Tribeca

Israeli films have been picking up prizes at every major festival so far this year, hopefully the trend will continue at Tribeca.

Israeli films will have a strong presence at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from April 25-May 6, as has been the case throughout the festival's history. Actor/director Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and philanthropist Craig Hatkoff founded the festival in 2002 as a way to help revive downtown Manhattan after the 9/11 terror attack. The complete program will be available on March 28 at the festival Website,, but so far, several Israeli films have been listed as part of this year's program, including the feature, My Father My Lord (Hufshat Kaytz), directed by David Volach, which tells the story of a troubled ultra-Orthodox family on vacation, starring Assi Dayan and Sharon Hacohen Bar. It was shown here last fall at the Haifa International Film Festival. Ido Haar's 9 Star Hotel, about Palestinian workers in Israel illegally who work building Modi'in, will be part of the World Documentary Competition. 9 Star was one of two films that split the documentary prize at the Jerusalem International Film Festival in July. One Israeli film that will have its world premiere at Tribeca is Yael Luttwak's A Slim Peace, which is about a women's weight-loss group in the West Bank that includes both Palestinians and settlers, and seems likely to bring a new perspective to an old issue. Eytan Fox's films are always popular at Tribeca, and his latest, The Bubble, will be shown in the Encounters section. The documentary, Sons of Sakhnin United is credited as a US film, but it tells the story of the breakout success of the B'Nei Sakhnin soccer team, which is a multi-ethnic team from an Arab-Israeli town. Israeli films have been picking up prizes at every major festival so far this year and if the trend continues, Israel could win a few more at Tribeca. Other intriguing-sounding films that will be at Tribeca this year include the Brazilian film, The Year My Parents Went On Vacation, about a 12-year-old Jewish boy whose parents suddenly have to flee Brazil because of their political activities; Forging a Nation, a documentary about Jewish refugees who made Argentina their home; and Falafel, which is described as a Lebanese version of Martin Scorsese's tale of a surrealistic night crawl, After Hours. Perhaps because De Niro is an actor who also directs, a large number of movies in the festival were directed by actors, with films by Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise), Eric Connolly (Entourage), Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes), James Franco (who played De Niro's son in City by the Sea), and Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien). Limp Bizkit's frontman Fred Durst also makes his directorial debut with The Education of Charlie Banks, the coming-of-age story about a college student who gets a visit from a thug from his hometown. EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Daniel Craig, the latest James Bond, will be starring in an existential thriller called Blindness, based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago. Craig will play a doctor in a town where everyone suddenly becomes blind, except for his wife, who will be played by Julianne Moore (she appeared in an another apocalyptic thriller, Children of Men, just last year). Doesn't this plot sound like the 1962 British sci-fi classic, The Day of the Triffids? In that movie, nearly everyone in the world goes blind after watching a meteor shower, which also leaves behind weird, poison-spouting plants called triffids. Triffids was based on a very entertaining book of the same name by John Wyndham, who also wrote The Midwich Cuckoos, which was made into the horror film, Village of the Damned. Wyndham wasn't particularly concerned with political allegory, as Saramago apparently is, so it will be interesting to see how a world gone blind plays out in the new film. IF YOU DIDN'T make it to Dovaviv, some of the movies are being shown all over the country already. On Monday at 9:30 p.m. at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, you can see Ibtisam Mara'ana's Three Times Divorced, about the struggles of a woman from Gaza to regain custody of her children and to get Israeli citizenship after her husband divorces her in a Muslim court.