Cinefile: Movie guests here... and Israeli films abroad

Israeli films continue to make their way to all corners of the globe.

jellyfish 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy )
jellyfish 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy )
French actress and director Sophie Marceau will be a guest of the 2007 Haifa Film Festival, running September 27 through October 4. Marceau, once a Bond girl (The World is Not Enough) will present her latest film as director, in which she also stars, Disparue de Deauville (its English title is Trivial). It also stars her partner, Christopher Lambert (he was the Tarzan character in Greystoke), who will also attend the festival. Marceau starred in the 1991 film, For Sasha, about a group of French teens who join a kibbutz, which was filmed here. The distinguished Czech director, Jiri Menzel, probably best known for his 1966 classic, Closely Watched Trains, will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. He will attend the festival to present his latest film, I Served the King of England. ISRAELI FILMS have made it (albeit in small print) into Entertainment Weekly's Fall Preview issue. Eytan Fox's The Bubble, which is opening in a limited release in the US next week (that means just in a few large cities), was described as a coming-of-age film, which is an odd description, but at least it was mentioned. I'd call it a gay Israeli-Palestinian Romeo and Juliet if I had to summarize the story for US audiences. Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit, which opens here next week and in the US in December was also mentioned and a small picture from it appeared as well. The copy described it as the visit of an Egyptian police orchestra, with an explanation of what a police band is, to a small Israeli town and continued, "potentially life-threatening cultural differences - always fun!" This made me realize that it's going to be difficult to explain this film in a way that US audiences will understand. It isn't so much about cultural differences as similarities between the visiting Egyptians and Israeli residents of a God-forsaken Negev town. The residents there are mostly Mizrahi, meaning that their cultural background is not so removed from that of their visitors. Also, this is a town that the high-tech boom and the statistical economic advances in Israel have completely passed by. The town's residents may not be as poor as the average Egyptian, but they don't have a lot and there aren't a lot of opportunities, either economic or social, to come their way. But anyone expecting some serious commentary on the Middle East or Israeli-Egyptian tensions will be disappointed, while anyone who is even faintly interested in life here will love the film. FESTIVAL NEWS FROM ABROAD: Israeli films continue to make their way to all corners of the globe. The Band's Visit will be shown at the Tokyo Film Festival, as will Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret's Jellyfish (Meduzot), a moving weave of interlocking stories set near the beach in Tel Aviv which already won a top prize at Cannes. In addition to Toronto, where both Jellyfish and Band's will also compete, Jellyfish will be presented at the Pusan Film Festival in Korea. It's also slated to compete in the prestigious Telluride Film Festival in the US, the Jewish Film Festival in London, and at festivals in Warsaw, Istanbul, Athens, Copenhagen and Saville. It has a US distributor and is set to open in America in March, and will also be opening throughout Europe. The full list of films competing in Venice was announced, and although on the initial list there were no Israeli films, now Amos Gitai's Desengagement, starring Juliette Binoche, has been added. Ran Tal's documentary about childhood on kibbutzim, Children of the Sun, has been added to the Toronto International Film Festival slate. It won the Wolgin Award for Best Israeli Documentary at this summer's Jerusalem Film Festival and it got great buzz in a year when there were more than a dozen terrific documentaries. Another documentary, Limor Pinhasov and Yaron Kaftori's A Working Mom, a look at a Bolivian woman who works in Israel for over a decade and then returns home, will also be shown at multiple festivals in such far-flung locations as China, Spain, Morocco, Greece, India, Germany and Mexico. Even more surprising, it will be shown in New York as part of the African Diaspora Film Festival, the largest African-American themed festival in the US. Because of its theme, about the effects of globalization on workers who move throughout the world, it has an appeal for audiences all over the world.