Classic and contemporary

New movies and top guests will delight moviegoers at Haifa Film Festival

'The Program' movie (photo credit: PR)
'The Program' movie
(photo credit: PR)
The 31st Haifa International Film Festival, which will take place from September 26 to October 5 at the Haifa Cinematheque and other theaters around the city, will show more than 100 of the best contemporary movies from around the world, as well as some classics.
It also features several competitions for Israeli films that will include some of the most anticipated movies this year.
The festival opens with Stephen Frears’s The Program, a fact-based drama about a journalist who exposed cycling champion Lance Armstrong’s illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs, one of the biggest sports scandals in history. The delightful Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, The Sapphires) stars as the journalist, while Ben Foster plays Armstrong.
Other films in the Gala section include Time Out of Mind, directed by Israeli-born writer/director Oren Moverman. Richard Gere stars in it as a homeless man who tries to reconnect with his daughter.
Moverman is known for the screenplays for Love and Mercy and I’m Not There, among others, and directed The Messenger.
Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk, in 3D, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, the man who strung a rope between the towers of the World Trade Center and did a tightrope walk in 1974.
Among the festival guests will be documentary director Claude Lanzmann, best known for his Holocaust documentary Shoah and for his other acclaimed movies about the Holocaust and Jewish history. The festival’s guest of honor, Lanzmann will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will celebrate his 90th birthday and will also commemorate 70 years since the end of World War II and the liberation of the concentration camps. A new digitally restored print of Shoah will be screened, along with several of Lanzmann’s other films, among them Sobibor, Le Rapport Karski and The Last of the Unjust. Lanzmann will give a master class that will be open to the public, and he will meet with documentary film students at the pitching event.
Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf will be the head of the jury for the Israeli Feature Film Competition. In 2012, Makhmalbaf made the documentary The Gardener, about the Bahai Gardens in Haifa. It will be shown as part of a retrospective of his films, among them The President (2014), A Moment of Innocence (1996) and The Cyclist (1987).
Peter Greenaway, the British director known for the films The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; Nightwatching; and 8 1/2 Women, will screen his latest film, Eisenstein at Guanajuato, at the festival. The film, a biography of director Sergei Eisenstein, will be shown as part of the CinemArt section, programmed by David D’Arcy.
The Panorama Section offers crowd-pleasing movies from across the globe. Festival guests Sergio Castellitto and Margaret Mazzantini, respectively, directed and wrote You Can’t Save Yourself Alone, the story of separated couple whose simple conversation turns into a meditation on their entire relationship. The movie was adapted by Mazzantini from her novel.
Sharunas Bartas, one of the most acclaimed Lithuanian directors, will present his latest film, Peace to Us in Our Dreams.
Benoit Jacquot’s Three Hearts tells the story of a love triangle.
Benoit Poelvoorde plays the man; Charlotte Gainsbourg and Chiara Mastroianni play the sisters he is involved with; and Catherine Deneuve portrays their mother.
Isabel Coixet’s latest film, Learning to Drive, stars Patricia Clarkson as a woman who must learn to drive when her husband leaves her. She forms a bond with her driving instructor, played by Ben Kingsley.
The Carmel International Film Competition features acclaimed movies from the film festival circuit all over the world. Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea is the highly topical story of two migrants from Burkina Faso and their perilous journey to Italy, followed by the hardships they face once they are in Europe.
Naomi Kawase’s Sweet Red Bean Paste, which opened the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes this year, tells the story of a young woman who runs a bakery and reluctantly accepts the help of an older woman who has much to teach her.
There are also special programs on films from Eastern Europe, classics (including Fellini’s Amarcord and Orson Welles’s Shadow and Light, a documentary about the director), international animation, children’s films, free outdoor screenings and much more.
To order tickets and to get more details, go to the festival website at