World premiers and distinguished guests

The 35th Jerusalem Film Festival opens next week

Isle of Dogs (photo credit: Courtesy)
Isle of Dogs
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The 35th Jerusalem Film Festival, which will run at the Jerusalem Cinematheque from July 26 to August 5, is one of the biggest and most exciting movie events of the year. It will feature movie premieres from Israel and around the world, special events attended by international guests and screenings all over the city.
The opening-night film will be an Israeli movie, Unorthodox, by Eliran Malka, a drama about the founding of the Shas Party in Jerusalem, starring Shuli Rand.
The festival will end with Wes Anderson’s latest film, Isle of Dogs, a wild, weird animated feature about dogs exiled to a Japanese island, with voice acting by Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston and Scarlett Johansson.
Israeli cinematographer Yaron Scharf, who shot Unorthodox, will receive an achievement award at the festival’s opening ceremony. Scharf has received awards for his work on films such as Norman, Bethlehem, Zero Motivation, Footnote, Yossi & Jagger and many others.
The festival will feature more than 100 movies from 45 counties. Gala screenings will include Whitney, Kevin Macdonald’s documentary about Whitney Houston; Jesse Peretz’s Juliet, Naked, an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, starring Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke; and Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a movie starring Adam Driver and John David Washington about a black man who infiltrates the KKK.
Many guests from abroad will attend screenings of their films. Christian Petzold will meet audiences at a screening of his latest film, Transit. This movie, starring Franz Rogowski, is based on a novel by Anna Seghers about Holocaust-era refugees, and has been reworked to illuminate the plight of refugees and migrants in contemporary Europe. One of Petzold’s best-known previous films, Phoenix, will also be screened at the festival.
Laura Benson, a star of Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not, which was the surprise winner at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, will attend. The film is an exploration of intimacy among a very diverse group of people.
Hitler’s Hollywood will be screened in the presence of director Rüdiger Suchsland and producer Martina Haubrich. It’s a documentary that examines Hitler’s movie propaganda, which included many popular feature films made between 1933 and 1945.
Matteo Garrone’s Dogman is about a man who runs a kennel, but who inadvertently gets into trouble with a violent boxer. Its star, Marcello Fonte, who won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for the film, will attend the festival.
Sauvage, the story of a prostitute facing a crisis, will be screened in the presence of its director, Camille Vidal-Naquet, and its producer, Emmanuel Giraud.
Stefano Savona’s Samouni Road is a documentary about a family in Gaza celebrating a wedding for the first time since the Gaza War in 2014.
Donbass will be shown in the presence of director Sergei Loznitsa and producer Maria Baker-Choustova. The film, which won the Un Certain Regard Director Award at Cannes, tells the story of Ukrainian gangs that take advantage of the war raging in the Donbass region. 
Loznitsa’s film Victory Day looks at the celebrations of the Soviet Union’s victory at a war memorial in Germany. Several of his short films will be shown as well.
Director Axel Petersen will be present at screenings of his film The Real Estate, the story of a former party girl who inherits a building and has to do battle with mobsters.
Director Valeria Golino and producer Viola Prestieri will attend screenings of Euphoria, the story of a successful businessman who invites his brother, a provincial teacher who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, to stay with him in Rome.
Actor Dogu Demirkol will appear at screenings of The Wild Pear Tree, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, about a writer who returns home to his troubled family.
Expectations tend to run high for the Haggiag Competition for Full-Length Israeli Feature Films, and this year there will be seven new movies competing in it. Several very varied documentaries will participate in the Van Leer Competition for Israeli Documentaries. Another competition, In the Spirit of Freedom Awards in Memory of Wim van Leer, the husband of the festival’s founder, Lia van Leer, will go to feature films and documentaries that explore human rights issues.
The Gabriel Sherover Foundation Award for Best International Film will be given to a foreign film at the festival. The Jewish Experience Awards, courtesy of Michaela and Leon Constantiner, include the Lia Award in Honor of Lia van Leer for Films Dealing with Jewish Heritage, and the Avner Shalev-Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award for Artistic Achievement in Holocaust-related Film. There are also awards for short films and student films.
There will also be a screening of Assi Dayan’s classic film Life According to Agfa, which was digitally restored in 4K scan by the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the Israel Film Archive. The restoration of the 1993 film, starring Gila Almagor, was done in Israel, the first of the Israel Film Archive projects to be completely done here. The project was supervised by its original cinematographer, Yoav Kosh.
Other classics that will be shown in newly restored versions include Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; Ewald André Dupont’s rarely shown silent classic about Austrian Jewish life, The Ancient Law; and Ozu’s The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice.
The late director Chantal Akerman will be honored with a tribute.
The festival will also include a variety of professional events that bring together the Israeli and international film industry. These include the PitchPoint event, which will be held this year for the 13th time, July 26-29. Aspiring filmmakers will pitch their projects to a jury of international film professionals, and the winners will receive funding.
Although the Jerusalem Cinematheque is the center of the festival, events will be held at different venues around the city. One of these will be JFF in the Old City, which will run from July 31-August 2 at the New Gate at 7 p.m., and will feature three films: The Band’s Visit, Sweeney Todd and Jersey Boys, with musical performances.
Independence Park will host Park Kolnoa, a movie-themed park for children. It will feature many attractions, even a pool where kids can watch screenings from boats. Among the films to be screened here will be Raiders of the Lost Ark, with live musical accompaniment from the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Noa Regev is the executive director of the festival and the CEO of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, while Elad Samorzik is the festival’s artistic director.
For more information and to order tickets, go to the festival website at