What to look for at the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival

Shorts, stars and archive gems.

Film festival (Illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)
Film festival (Illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)
The Jerusalem Film Festival, which runs through August 5 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and other venues around the city, offers a huge number of films – more than 100 – which include features, documentaries, short films, animated films and special events.
Choosing among them may be daunting. Often, movies will have their world premiere at the festival, so you can’t go online and look up previous reviews.
Here are a few suggestions on how to choose movies at the festival and some specific picks for what to see.
When you are choosing a movie, you should decide if you just want to have fun seeing a good film at the festival and go to one of the higher-profile, better-known movies – which are likely to open shortly afterwards in regular theaters in Israel and which are usually shown in the Gala or Panorama sections – or if you’d like to see a film you will only be able to see at the festival. If you want to know if a movie you are considering will be opening soon in Israel, you can go to the website, seret.co.il, and click on the “Coming soon,” option.
Another factor to consider is that all movies in the festival have English subtitles, so if you prefer seeing Israeli movies with English titles, then it is worth seeing them at the festival.
One option you may not have thought of is the Israeli Short Film Competition. Those who make the short films of today go on to be tomorrow’s leading feature filmmakers and many of Israel’s leading actors appear in these films. Noa Koler, who won the Ophir Award for Best Actress for The Wedding Plan, stars in the short film, Oshri, by Lihi Sabag.
Some of the other highlights in this year’s competition are Ines Moldavski’s The Men Behind the Wall, a look at a woman in Israel who is matched up by dating websites with men in the West Bank, which won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival and Aleeza Chanowitz’s Shabbos Kallah, about a new immigrant who tries to convince her soon-to-be married friend she is a sex expert. There is also a program of International Short Films.
Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, which will be shown in the Gala Section, tells the offbeat, true story of the life of cartoonist John Callahan. Callahan, who was known for his original and darkly funny cartoons, was an alcoholic and was confined to a wheelchair following a car accident, but he overcame both of these challenges to build a successful career. Joaquin Phoenix stars and Jonah Hill and Rooney Mara have supporting roles.
In the Panorama Section, which features all kinds of films from around the world, you might want to check out Maxim Pozdorovkin’s documentary, Our New President, a timely look at how the Russian media has covered Donald Trump’s presidency.
The Israel Film Archive, which is housed in and run by the Jerusalem Cinematheque, will present a peek into its riches – which include copies of every film ever made in Israel, going back 120 years – as part of a special project that will be unveiled at the festival. The archive asked several distinguished Israeli filmmakers to create short works out of carefully chosen moments from these hidden treasures. These short films will premiere at the festival before screenings and these short films will also be featured on the archive’s soon-to-be launched website alongside other rare archival gems that include feature films, documentaries, news reels, advertisements and student films.
The filmmakers participating in this unique project are: Avi Nesher (Halahaka, Turn Left at the End of the World, Past Life), Ran Tal (Children of the Sun, Garden of Eden, The Museum), Moran Ifergan (Wall) and animators Corinne Kitzis and Dalia Kastel.
No matter what you are interested in, you should be able to find something to suit you at the festival.
For more information and to order tickets, go to the festival website .