The Jerusalem Film Festival will light up the Hanukkah season

There is still a possibility that filmmakers will participate in in-person screenings with very small audiences, but nothing definite has been announced yet.

STEVE CARELL and Rose Byrne from ‘Irresistible’ by Jon Stewart. (photo credit: COURTESY JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL)
STEVE CARELL and Rose Byrne from ‘Irresistible’ by Jon Stewart.
While the Jerusalem Film Festival run by the Jerusalem Cinematheque will be held amid the flickering lights of Hanukkah this year instead of during midsummer, it will still be one of the Israel’s most exciting movie events.
The 37th Jerusalem Film Festival will run December 10-20 online. There is still a possibility that filmmakers will participate in in-person screenings with very small audiences, but nothing definite has been announced yet. There will be online meetings with directors, actors and producers of some of the films.
The Nechama Rivlin Prize, in honor of the late wife of President Reuven Rivlin, will be awarded in the International Competition under the auspices of the Jerusalem Foundation. In the Debut Films, a prize will be awarded by the GWFF organization.
Audiences can purchase single tickets or choose among a number of packages. Those who buy packages will be entered in raffles that will award prizes that include private screenings at the cinematheque.
The festival will open with Eytan Fox’s Sublet, the story of a grieving American travel writer who comes to Tel Aviv to write an article and forms a bond with a student who becomes his guide to the city. The closing film will be Emmanuel Mouret’s Love Affair(s), a romantic comedy about a man who falls for his cousin’s girlfriend, who has recently gotten pregnant.
The international programs have just been announced. The Gala section will feature the best of recent films from around the world. They include Julie Taymor’s The Glorias, an acclaimed biopic of pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem, starring Julianne Moore as Steinem and Bette Midler as Bella Abzug. Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart has directed his second film, Irresistible, a political satire that stars Steve Carell and Rose Byrne.
Among the films in the International Competition will be Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi, an Oscar-nominated drama about an ex-con who poses as a priest in a small Polish town. Eliza Hittman’s Sometimes Rarely Always Never, a much buzzed-about movie about the difficulties a young American woman faces trying to get an abortion, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020. The Painted Bird, an adaptation by Václav Marhoul of Jerzy Kozinksi’s controversial Holocaust novel, has won prizes at many festivals around the world. Jasmila Zbanic’s Quo Vadis, Aida? looks at a Bosnian woman struggling to protect her family during the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The Masters section features the latest films by the world’s most celebrated directors. Among them are Hong-sang Soo’s The Woman Who Ran, a lyrical look at friendships among women. Artist Ai Weiwei’s Vivos is about the kidnapping and killings of Mexican students by the police in 2014. Rithy Panh’s Irradiated examines several of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s short film Hidden looks at a Kurdish woman whose family will not allow her to pursue her vocation as a singer. Christian Petzold’s Undine is an offbeat love story that is a modern-day retelling of the Undine water virgin legend. Philippe Garrel’s The Salt of Tears is about a young man making his way in the world and the women he meets along the way. Miranda July’s Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins in a story about a family of grifters.
The Panorama section features 76 Days, a documentary about the lockdown of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus is believed to have originated; Grégory Monro’s Kubrick by Kubrick, which features rare interviews with master director Stanley Kubrick; Zappa, a film by Alex Winter, an in-depth portrait of the iconoclastic rocker Frank Zappa; and Eytan Ipeker’s The Pageant, a documentary about a very unusual beauty contest, one that features Holocaust survivors.
In the Debuts section, Kitty Green’s The Assistant is a powerful look at a young woman, played by Julia Garner (Ozark), who works for a Harvey Weinstein type. Eric Steel’s Minyan stars Ron Rifkin and Samuel H. Levine in a complex story about a gay young man growing up in a close-knit Brooklyn community of Russian immigrants in the 1980s.
THE HAGGIAG Competition for Israeli Feature Films will include: Ruthy Pribar’s Asia, about a complicated mother-daughter relationship, which won several prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival (including Best Actress for Shira Haas) and just won the Ophir Award for Best Picture; Nir Bergman’s Here We Are, a drama about a father and his autistic son on a road trip, which was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival this year; Greener Pastures, by Matan Guggenheim and Assaf Abiri, the story an elderly man placed in a nursing home against his will who gets involved in crime and medical cannabis; Nadav Schirman’s April 7, 1980, a fact-based drama about a deadly terrorist attack on Kibbutz Misgav Am in 1980 in which children were taken hostage; and The Death of Cinema and My Father Too, directed by Dani Rosenberg, about a father and son who try to use movies to stop the progress of the father’s illness.
The Israeli Documentary Competition will feature new films by several of Israel’s top directors, as well as other films by newcomers. Ada Ushpiz’s Children looks at the lives of teenagers in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Dror Moreh’s The Human Factor examines the history of the Israeli-Arab peace process. Barak Heymann’s High Maintenance tells the story of artist Dudi Karavan. Ran Tal’s What If? Ehud Barak on War and Peace.
For more details, visit the festival website at The viewing platform will be