Cinema by the sea

The 130 or so offerings in the Haifa Film Festival, which opens this week, run the gamut from classic to quirky, documentary to comedy.

Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you’re looking for something to do during Succot and love movies, then head to Haifa, where the 26th Haifa International Film Festival starts on Thursday night at the Haifa Cinematheque and other theaters around the city. The festival just released its guest list, and one of the highlights will be an appearance by Paul Giamatti, the brilliant American actor best known for his performances as a wine connoisseur in Sideways and in the title role of the miniseries, John Adams.
Giamatti will be presenting his latest film, Barney’s Version, an adaptation of the Mordecai Richler novel. In this politically incorrect, satirical film, the actor plays an arrogant man who spends his life moving from country to country and wife to wife. Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre play the women, while Dustin Hoffman is his father.
Robert Lantos, one of the film’s producers, will also be among the 60 festival guests.
The festival features 130 films from 40 countries It opens with Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe and closes on September 30 with The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. In between, there will be competitions for Israeli films (feature, documentary and shorts) and the Golden Anchor Award for films from countries along the Mediterranean.
French director Julie Bertucelli will also be attending the festival with her latest movie, L’Arbre (The Tree). The film, which was the closing attraction at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as a mother in Queensland, Australia, trying to raise her daughter after the sudden death of her husband. Yael Fogel, the film’s Israeli/French producer will be present at the festival.
Francesca Comencini, the Italian director of the film, Lo Spazio Blanco, about a woman coping with an unplanned pregnancy and a premature birth, will be present for screenings of the film.
Daniele Luchetti, another Italian director, and one of her producers, Riccardo Tozzi, will be at the festival with their film, La Nostra Vita. Elio Germano, the star, won the Best Actor Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, for his performance as a construction worker who loses his wife and begins an affair with the widow of an illegal immigrant.
Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf will present his controversial film, Womb, about a woman who gives birth to a clone of her dead lover, which was shown at the Locarno Film Festival. Womb, which won Best Cinematography and Best Actor prizes at the Berlin Film Festival, tells the story of a meteorologist and student at a research station in the Arctic Circle come to distrust and fear each other.
Aleksei Popogrebsky’s How I Ended This Summer, which won Best Cinematography and Best Actor prizes at the Berlin Film Festival, tells the story of a meteorologist and student at a research station in the Arctic Circle come to distrust and fear each other.  An article in Sunday’s Jerusalem Post incorrectly stated that a different film won these awards. The Jerusalem Post regrets the error.
Philippe Ros, the cinematographer on the acclaimed nature documentary, Oceans, will talk to audiences about his experiences making the film and will give a master class on Cinema and Television Photography in the Digital Age Sharon Harel, the producer of Tamara Drewe, will serve on the jury for the Israeli Feature Film Competition. Harel has produced films such as Robert Altman’s Gosford Park and Avi Nesher’s The Secrets. His father was Yossi Harel, the commander of the Exodus.
The festival, under the stewardship of artistic director Pnina Blayer, will honor the Israel Film Fund on its 30th anniversary and will also present a special achievement award to Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz. There will be retrospectives featuring the work of several directors, including John Huston, as well as programs devoted to New Australian cinema and British short films.
In addition, there will be a number of other about-to-bereleased Hollywood films at the festival, including Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps starring Michael Douglas, the sequel to the original Wall Street.
For further details on the programs, and to order tickets, visit the festival Website at