Haifa Film Festival announces its rich Israeli lineup

The Masters program, which features movies by the greatest directors from around the world, will include a movie by an Israeli director for the first time.

(photo credit: DANIEL MILLER)

The 39th Haifa International Film Festival, one of the most anticipated events on Israeli movie lovers’ calendars, that will run from September 28 to October 7, has just released its Israeli lineup. Many Israeli films that have premiered at Haifa have gone on to win prizes and be shown internationally, so these are closely watched competitions. 

Seven new Israeli feature films will be screened in the Israeli Feature Film Competition. No Shade in the Desert is a movie by Yossi Aviram who co-wrote the script with one of its stars, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, a French-Italian actress and director. Bruni Tedeschi plays a French journalist who is covering a Nazi trial and who reconnects with an Israeli man (Yona Rozenkier) she knew before and whose mother is set to testify as a witness in the trial. 

In Marco Carmel’s Arugam Bay, three Israelis go on a surfing trip after the army to cope with the deaths of several people close to them – and their vacation takes an unexpected turn when they meet Iranian surfers and an American drug dealer. Joy Rieger, Yadin Gelman, and Maor Schwitzer star. 

Dana Goldberg’s Debbie Was Here tells the story of a woman in a locked ward and a film student who gets to know her while documenting her life. 

In Danny Rosenberg’s The Vanishing Soldier an Israeli soldier flees the battlefield, leaving his commanders convinced he was kidnapped. The movie, which is nominated for the Ophir Award for Best Picture, had its world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival. 


Eliran Peled’s Victory is a musical about friends on a kibbutz whose lives have been changed by the Six-Day War. It stars Daniel Litman, Yael Sztulman, and Amit Farkash. 

Adar Shafran’s Running on Sand, also nominated for an Ophir Award for Best Picture, tells the story of an Eritrean refugee in Israel who, about to be deported, manages to escape and take the place of a Nigerian soccer star arriving to play for an Israeli team. 

Tova Ascher’s Haim’s Story stars Yuval Segal as a man who reflects on what went wrong in his life as he works as a security guard and lives with his mother. 

The Masters program

The Masters program, which features movies by the greatest directors from around the world, will include a movie by an Israeli director for the first time: Avi Nesher’s latest film, The Monkey House. The movie stars Adir Miller as a forgotten, embittered novelist and Suzanna Papian as a young actress hired to help bring his work back into the public eye. 

The festival will include the restoration of a classic Israeli movie, Daniel Wachsmann’s The Appointment (1990). It features Ronit Elkabetz in her movie debut as a troubled woman with supernatural powers who befriends a rabbi’s son (Shuli Rand) who has become a magician. 

The documentary category includes Adi Adwan’s The Third Man, about a man who has mixed Israeli-Palestinian ancestry; Michael Grynszpan’s The Shoshani Riddle, about a mysterious genius; Whatever Happened to George Halil, by Gonen Ben Yitzhak and Yael Lavie, about a Lebanese man working with Israeli intelligence who suddenly disappeared; Uri Marantz’s King Khat, about a scientist who investigates new drugs; Paz Schwartz’s Noni My Dear, which tells the story of a former Shin Bet agent who seeks out the daughter of a man he killed in Gaza decades ago; Lee Nechustan’s Women in Battle, about female soldiers traumatized by their army service; and Sarit Asnapi’s My Sister’s Keeper, about ultra-Orthodox women who choose to speak out about sexual abuse. 

There will be a number of Israeli documentaries that will be shown out of competition. These will include Vladimir Nepevny’s When We Return, a look at a family living throughout Eastern Europe whose lives are torn apart by the current political situation in Russia; Avi Maor-Marzuk’s War Secrets, about a massacre of Israeli prisoners of war on the Golan Heights by the Syrian military; and The European Dream by Mooly Landsman, a search for artworks stolen by the Nazis. 

The 10-day-long Haifa International Film Festival features some 200 movies from over 40 countries. The rest of the program will be released soon, check haifaff.co.il for more details.