Midnight madness, master classes and other highlights of the Haifa Film Festival

The 29th Haifa International Film Festival, which runs from September 19- 28 at the Haifa Cinematheque and other venues around the city, features the best of recent Israeli and international cinema.

ACTRESS TURNED director Valeria Golino 370 (photo credit: Courtesy PR)
ACTRESS TURNED director Valeria Golino 370
(photo credit: Courtesy PR)
The 29th Haifa International Film Festival, which runs from September 19- 28 at the Haifa Cinematheque and other venues around the city, features the best of recent Israeli and international cinema, as well as a long list of distinguished guests and special events.
It opens with Ari Folman’s The Congress, his long-awaited followup to Waltz with Bashir, starring Robin Wright and Jon Hamm, and closes with the George Clooney science-fiction film, Gravity. In between, there will be hundreds of films from all over the world, as well as many special events.
Peter Greenaway, the acclaimed, cerebral British director famous for such art-house classics as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Drowning by Numbers, The Tulse Luper Suitcases and Nightwatching, will present a program of his short films. Titled Short and Sweet, it will feature 35 of his short films, spanning four decades. After the films are screened, he will give a talk about them, and both film industry professionals and the general public are invited to this meeting. Greenaway has been a guest of the Haifa Film Festival in the past and is one British intellectual who has never been swayed by the arguments of the boycott enthusiasts.
Legendary documentary director Marcel Ophuls, whose The Sorrow and the Pity is considered to be one of the greatest documentaries of all time, will present his latest film, the autobiographical Ain’t Misbehaving.
Valeria Golino is an actress turned director who will present her latest film, Miele, (Honey) at the festival. The lovely actress, probably best remembered by international audiences for her role as Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in Rain Man (and for the scene in which she danced with Dustin Hoffman in that film), also once played such comic roles as Ramada opposite Charlie Sheen in the spoof, Hot Shots! Part Deux. Miele is her feature-film debut as a director, and its portrait of a tough and lonely young woman who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work the rest of society shies away from has drawn praise from critics.
Kurdish/Iraqi director Hiner Saleem, best known for his bittersweet romance Vodka Lemon, will also attend the festival, and will present his latest film, My Sweet Pepper Land, about a Kurdish war hero who works as policeman and befriends a teacher.
Ricardo Aronovich, one of the most highly regarded cinematographers in world cinema, will present Alan Resnais’ Providence, one of his most famous works. He will conduct a master class on the art of cinematography.
One of the most highly anticipated events is the Pitching Conference, the International Marketing Forum, in which aspiring filmmakers as well as veteran directors present their ideas to industry professionals and receive creative input – and perhaps funding.
The Pitching Conference, which is being held for the 10th time, will welcome a delegation from Turkey this year for the first time in many years. A delegation of 10 directors, producers, festival directors and distributors from Turkey will present a program on New Turkish Cinema, and will hold a special round table with Israeli artists to explore options for coproductions with Israel. There will also be other guests at the Pitching Conference from around the world.
Journalist and critic David D’Arcy will present CineMart, a special program of films from around the world and give his own take on them. Among them will be Chris Teerink’s documentary on minimalist artist Sol Lewitt, and Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claues’ Rain, about a Belgian choreographer staging a new work.
As in previous years, the festival features an enormous number of special events, which are open to the public, and some of which are free of charge. Midnight Madness consists of four scary movies, which will be shown at the witching hour throughout the festival.
For the first time in Israel, The Moth Storytelling Workshop will hold an event. The Moth is an acclaimed non-profit organization devoted to promoting the art of storytelling, and this event’s theme will be “A Fish Out of Water.”
There will be a number of films screened for free outside, as well as open-air concerts in front of the Haifa Cinematheque.
For details on all the events and to order tickets – and remember, many screenings and events do sell out – go to the festival website at http://www.haifaff.co.il