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The 28th annual LA Israel Film Festival is a varied gourmet meal, providing festival-goers with a small taste of the best of modern Israeli cinema.

ARIK LUBETZKI’S drama, ‘Apples from the Desert,’ is one of the newer Israeli movies to be shown at this year’s Israel Film Festival. (photo credit: Courtesy)
ARIK LUBETZKI’S drama, ‘Apples from the Desert,’ is one of the newer Israeli movies to be shown at this year’s Israel Film Festival.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘We always have one or two really good films, but this year we have so many terrific ones, it’s really exciting,” says Meir Fenigstein, the founder and executive director of the upcoming 28th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, which opens on October 23 at the Steve Tisch Cinema Center, Saban Theater, in Beverly Hills, and runs until November 6.
“We’ve got 28 films for the 28 years of the festival, and I’m very excited, this is our biggest and best lineup ever,” says Fenigstein, who may be better known to fans of Israeli music as Poogy, the drummer for the Israeli supergroup Kaveret, and the inspiration behind the song, “Poogy Stories.”
“Israel is a very vibrant society, and these films tell stories of people from so many backgrounds,” he says.
The opening night film is Asaf Korman’s Next to Her, a drama about a woman caring for her mentally disabled sister, which just won the top prize at the Haifa International Film Festival and won an Ophir Award, the Israeli Oscar, for Dana Ivgy, for Best Supporting Actress.
Ivgy will attend the festival’s gala opening night screening to accept the IFF Cinematic Achievement Award. The actress is coming off an especially good year. She also won the Ophir Award for Best Actress this year, for her performance in Talya Lavie’s acclaimed film Zero Motivation, about female soldiers, which will also be shown at the festival. Zero Motivation took the prize for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring.
Israel-born producer Arnon Milchan will receive the festival’s Visionary Award. Milchan has produced dozens of classic movies, among them the recently released Gone Girl, the Best Picture Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Fight Club, Brazil and Pretty Woman.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will go to producer Mace Neufeld, who has made many Hollywood hits, including the recently released The Equalizer, Patriot Games, Invictus, The Aviator and The Hunt for Red October.
In addition to Next to Her and Zero Motivation, the festival’s offerings will include Avi Nesher’s The Wonders, about an artist in Jerusalem who gets mixed up with a mystery woman and a shadowy rabbi; Oren Stern’s Hill Start, a comedy about a family getting on with their lives while their mother is in a coma; Nissim Dayan’s The Dove Flyer, a drama about Iraqi Jewish life; Shay Kanot’s Kicking Out Shoshana, a broad comedy that stars Gal Ganot, who will soon be playing Wonder Woman in a series of upcoming Hollywood movies; and Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor’s Magic Men, which tells the story of a Greek Holocaust survivor who returns to his homeland.
Several films in the festival just had their premieres at the Haifa International Film Festival, among them Dani Menkin’s Is That You?, a romantic road comedy starring Alon Aboutboul and Matti Harari, and Arik Lubetzki’s drama, Apples from the Desert, about a young religious woman in Jerusalem who runs away to a kibbutz with the man she loves.
Documentaries are a key part of the festival this year as well. Hilla Medalia’s The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films tells the story of the late Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, two Israeli cousins who built the biggest independent production company in Hollywood.
Life as a Rumor, directed by Adi Arbel and Moish Goldberg, is a portrait of the late actor/director Assi Dayan. Above and Beyond, directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by Nancy Spielberg, is the exciting, inside story of the birth of the Israeli air force.
There’s even a documentary this year about Fenigstein, The Story of Poogy, directed by Ofer Naim, which focuses on how Fenigstein discovered, over 15 years ago, that he had a daughter he never knew about.
Fenigstein, who recently moved back to Israel to raise his two younger children, says, “There’s something for everyone at the festival this year.”
To see the full lineup of movies and to buy tickets go to the festival website at