There are a lot of film festivals in Israel, but one particularly known for its enjoyable events and cutting-edge films is the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival, this month celebrating its 25th anniversary with a lineup of award-winning films and acclaimed guests, from June 25-July 1, at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city.
The festival is now older than many of its participants, but it’s still one of the liveliest movie events of the year. Established in 1986 by students from the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, at first it was held every other year. Now it takes place annually and is still largely run by TAU students who are proud of its reputation as one of the most prestigious and diverse student film festivals in the world.
The festival will kick off on June 25 with a festive opening ceremony at HaPisga Garden in Jaffa, hosted by actor Shai Avivi, and will be followed by a preview screening of some of the festival highlights of the Shorts on the Way and Shorts Animation programs.
The guests of honor from abroad, as well as Israeli filmmakers, will hold master classes and screen their films, some for the first time in front of an Israeli audience.
The president of the festival will be Hollywood producer Lawrence Kasanoff, who co-founded the Lightstorm Entertainment company with James Cameron and produced, among many other titles, True Lies and the Mortal Kombat film series. Kasanoff has just written a book that might be useful to many aspiring filmmakers, A Touch of the Madness: How to Be More Innovative in Work and Life . . . by Being a Little Crazy.
Acclaimed guests in Tel Aviv
Among the guests of the festival will be several distinguished directors, including Christian Petzold (Phoenix, Transit) from Germany, Jessica Hausner (Little Joe) of Austria, Agnieszka Smoczyńska (The Silent Twins) of Poland and Andrew Dominik (Blonde) of New Zealand.
Cinematographer Diego Garcia, whose work includes the movies Causeway and Nimic, and the series, Too Old to Die Young, will participate, as will film editor Jacob Secher Schulsinger, who has worked with some of today’s greatest directors, including Ruben Ostlund and Lars von Trier.
More than 100 short films from 25 countries, including Ukraine, Colombia and Poland, will participate in the festival’s competitions this year.
Many of these films have been shown at festivals around the world and some have won prestigious prizes. Among the films participating in the International Competition will be Joao Gonzalez’s Oscar-nominated short, The Ice Merchants and A Conspiracy Man by Valerio Ferrara, which won the Cinefondation Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022.
The films touch on almost every subject imaginable including filmmaking itself. Julia Orlik’s This Will Not Be a Festival Film is an animated short about a film student who works for years to support herself as she creates her graduation film. Morgane Frund’s Ours is about an amateur documentary filmmaker who makes movies about bears and works with an editor who discovers some surprises in his footage.
Other films present a fascinating glimpse of daily life in countries around the world. Alina Panasenko’s Teatralna Station looks at a pickpocket at a Ukrainian Metro station who falls in love with one of the station employees. Superdupermegagigasingle tells the story of a ski resort mascot in Norway who falls in love with a woman he crashes into on the slopes. Worlds Burning Amid the Shadows by Ismael Garcia of Colombia looks at a mother who tries to bond with her son after she has left his father.
There will also be an Israeli competition as well as competitions for experimental films and videos and an international digital media competition. In addition, there will be special events all over Tel Aviv.
Information about the full program is available on the festival website at https://www.taufilmfest.com/?lang=en