Fun on a string

The International Puppet Theater & Film Festival will animate the streets, stages and screens of Holon from July 21-30.

Puppet on a string (photo credit: Courtesy)
Puppet on a string
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Holon is, by now, firmly established as the epicenter of the country’s junior activities and entertainment. The city is home to the Children’s Museum and the Israeli Cartoon Museum. But next week it is the local Israel Puppet Center that will grab the interest of the younger crowd – and their parents – when the annual International Puppet Theater and Film Festival kicks off there on Thursday, for the 14th time.
According to Ilan Savir, the event’s artistic director and director of the Israel Puppet Center, the festival has been primarily responsible for kick-starting and sustaining the puppet scene in Israel. “When the festival began, there was no Puppet Center in Holon,” he notes. “There was just a school for puppet theater studies in a community center, and the festival grew up around that. We later moved to the center, which is exclusively devoted to puppet theater. That is unique in Israel and in the world.”
The festival, which runs from July 21 to July 30, will host several top acts from around the world, as well as the cream of the local puppet theater community. The former include The Happy Puppetry Company from Taiwan, with a glove puppet carnival show, and renowned Icelandic puppeteer Brend Ogrodnik, who will bring his Figura Theatre’s Metamorphosis show here.
The festival program also covers a range of puppet-related areas and disciplines, including live indoor and street shows, movies, exhibitions and workshops. The shows and workshops are designed to appeal to a wide range of age groups, from pre-schoolers to adults. One of the adult items is a work by Zvi Saar called Planet Egg. The Israeli-American co-production focuses on a miniature puppet theater that will be filmed in progress. The images of the show will be projected onto a screen, providing an added dimension to the visual end product.
In addition to Metamorphosis, Ogrodnik will also be on hand after a screening of the Danish movie Strings, the world’s first full-length documentary with puppets. The Icelander will address the audience after the film and talk about the puppets he designed for the film.
Other items in the documentary section include A Puppet Intervention about an innovative puppet theater event that takes place annually in North Carolina, and Random Ventriloquist made by high school students from Hod Hasharon.
Savir is delighted to be in charge of the festival’s proceedings for the eighth year in succession and believes things are moving along nicely here in puppet theater. “We believe the festival’s objective is to portray the existing reality of the field but also to lead and innovate,” he states. “The festival has expanded and will now last nine days instead of five intense days and will highlight the complexity of the field on stage and on screen, as well as in the musical and educational aspects of the field.”
The festival certainly provides local puppet theaters with some a prominent stage, both in auditoriums and street space, during the festival.
The Israeli groups that will be displaying their artistic wares at the festival include the Mathilda Studio and Puppet Theater with a premiere showing of a humorous take on the classic tale of The Fisherman and the Goldfish (July 21, 23 and 30) for children aged five and over, while Roger Duvoisin’s Petunia, about a female goose who finds a book and embarks on a pseudo intellectual exercise, will be performed by the Bubotaim Theater (July 21, 22, 23 and 28) for children from the age of four.
Tal Benina will offer children aged four to nine a comic angle of The Sleeping Beauty, featuring a hapless witch (July 30), and the Orna Porat Children’s and Youth Theater will collaborate with the Agadit Theater company on a one-man rendition of Little Mozart, about the genius composer who just wanted to be a child. Little Mozart is for children aged four and over and will be performed on July 28 at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
On July 26 (at 8:30 p.m.) there will be a tribute event in memory of puppeteer Sharona (Shari) Shapira- Goskov, who died last April. The event, called Ve’ulai Gam Zeh Zmani (Maybe This Is Temporary, Too), will feature short puppet slots and works by artists from a range of disciplines. Admission is free.
There will be a number of free events for members of the Mediatech Center in Holon, and there will be free entry to the Puppet Museum and Puppet Theater Center throughout the festival.
For more information: (03) 651-6848 and