A global flavor with a coastal breeze

Eclectic lineup of filmmakers flock to 30th Haifa International Film Festival.

A SCENE FROM ‘Red Rose,’ a drama set just after the Iranian elections in 2009, directed by Sepideh Farsi (R) (photo credit: Courtesy)
A SCENE FROM ‘Red Rose,’ a drama set just after the Iranian elections in 2009, directed by Sepideh Farsi (R)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Haifa International Film Festival, which runs from October 9-18 at the Haifa Cinematheque (and other theaters around the city), hits 30 this year, and it has come of age gracefully, with a full slate of distinguished guests.
The festival is known for presenting both the best of recent Israeli and world cinema. It opens with a festive screening of The Judge, Robert Downey Jr.’s latest movie, a drama with Robert Duvall.
There will be competitions for the best new Israeli films – among them The Farewell Party, a movie about people in a retirement home who invent a machine that allows them to die with dignity that won the Audience Award at the Venice Days section of the Venice International Film Festival. The Golden Anchor Competition is for movies made in countries along the Mediterranean basin. There will be dozens of other sections and programs, among them ones titled Between Judaism and Israelism, The Western Rides Again and Midnight Madness.
Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose latest film, Leviathan, will be screened, is one of the distinguished guests attending the festival. Leviathan, a mix of allegory and psychological thriller, won the Best Screenplay Prize (for Zvyagintsev and his co-screenwriter, Oleg Negin) at the Cannes Film Festival last spring.
Originally an actor, Zvyagintsev turned to directing in 2003 with The Return, a dark drama that won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival; it was the first Russian film to do so. His second film, The Banishment, won the Best Actor Prize at Cannes for its leading actor, Konstantin Lavronenko.
Leviathan’s producer, Alexander Rodnyansky, will also attend the film festival.
Sepideh Farsi, an Iranian director who lives in France, will present her latest film, Red Rose. It is a drama set just after the Iranian elections in 2009, which tells the story of a young female radical who takes shelter with a young man she doesn’t know well. The movie won rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Every film festival needs a little glamour, and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher (sister of director Alice Rohrwacher) seems likely to provide it. She will attend the festival with Saverio Costanzo, the director of her latest film, Hungry Hearts, for which she and her co-star, Adam Driver of the HBO series Girls, won Best Actor and Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. The movie is about a young couple in New York whose seemingly idyllic relationship is put to the test when their child faces a life-threatening illness.
Signe Baumane, the director of the English-language animated feature film, Rocks in My Pockets, a look at her family’s history of mental illness, will take part in the festival. Rocks won three key prizes at this year’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.
Viktor Taus’ Clownwise is a Czech film that looks at a darkly funny reunion of three mimes who performed together years ago.
Georgian director Levan Koguashvili and his producer Olena Yerhsova will present his latest film, Blind Dates, about two teachers who are set up on a blind date with women from another town. The encounter ends up having unexpected consequences for everyone.
Mark Fitoussi’s latest film, Paris Follies, stars Isabelle Huppert as a Normandy cattle farmer who gets involved with a group of Parisians vacationing nearby.
Israel is not only a movie powerhouse, but in recent years has become a center for high-quality television, producing shows that were developed into hit US series In Treatment and Homeland, among others.
There will be several special events at the festival concerned with the television industry, among them Film/Television: Enemies, A Love Story. At this event, Charlotte Sieling, a Danish-born director who works mostly in American television and has directed episodes of The Bridge, The Americans, The Strain and Tyrant (which was produced and shot partly in Israel), will appear. Israeli producer Hagai Levy and Sarah Treem, who collaborated on In Treatment, will present their latest television series, The Affair.
There will also be a workshop on pitching projects given by Ken Aguado, producer and author of The Hollywood Pitching Bible; Julie Gray, the Tel Aviv-based screenwriter, novelist and author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas; and Stephen R. Greenwald and Paula Landry, authors of The Business of Film. Advance registration is required for participation in all workshops.
For more information about events, guests and movies, go to the film festival website at haifaff.co.il.