Eran Kolirin’s latest film, Let It Be Morning, won the lion’s share of the major awards in the Israeli Feature Film Competition at the Haifa International Film Festival on Sunday night, including Best Film as well as Best Director and Best Screenplay, for Kolirin.
The movie, which tells the story of an Israeli-Arab who goes to his home village for a wedding and gets stuck there, which is based on a novel by Sayed Kashua, also won the award for Best Actor for Ehab Elias Salami. He plays a cab owner who struggles against gangsters who want him to pay for protection.
Kolirin, who directed The Band’s Visit in 2007, thanked his actors, his crew and Kashua, and said the film had been created in a “bubble of love.” The movie is nominated for 15 Ophir Awards.
Reymonde Amsallem won the Best Actress Award for the movie The House on Fin Street.
The winner of the Best Israeli Documentary Award was Yael Kipper and Ronen Zaretsky’s Portrait, a look at a woman who was abused by her violent husband and who paints other women who have been the victims of domestic violence. Kifaya Ayati, the subject of the film, attended the ceremony and said that if women were not protected from violent men, thousands of women would live their entire lives in fear.
Radu Muntean’s Întregalde, a Romanian film about volunteers whose perspective changes when they are forced to spend the night in an isolated village, won the Carmel Competition for Best International Film.
Laura Wandel’s Playground, a Belgian film about the hardships of growing up, won the Golden Anchor Competition for Best Debut Film.
Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem presented the awards in the Short Israeli Film Competition and acting festival director Yaron Shamir spoke of how hard it was to put together the festival but how well it had turned out, with tens of thousands of viewers attending.
But politics were not absent from the proceedings. The stars of Let It Be Morning, who did not attend the movie's world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival as a protest against the fact that the film was labeled Israeli, were mostly absent from Tuesday's ceremony. Ehab Elias Salami, who won Best Supporting Actor, did attend, but Juna Suleiman, who won Best Actress (as well as an award for Best Casting, since she was also the film's casting director) , was not present and released a statement that said, "The moments of recognition and appreciation are among the most exciting for any filmmaker and actor. In a normal situation I should have felt happy to receive the award, but unfortunately it is impossible when there are efforts to erase my Palestinian identity. " Alex Bakri, who won Best Actor, also skipped the award ceremony and had one of the producers read a statement critical of Israeli policies toward Palestinians.