One of just a few movie theaters to reopen in any capacity following a partial lifting of coronavirus restrictions, the Jerusalem Cinematheque is rewarding its audiences with the first in-person film festival in Israel since the crisis began.
From July 8-15, it will host the second annual Re-Film Festival – the slogan of which is “Restored, Rediscovered, Revisited” – consisting of digitally stored classic movies from the Israel Film Archive.
This festival, which will be held in accordance with all the regulations of the Health Ministry for cultural events, is an amazing and rare opportunity to see classic films on the big screen. The classics chosen from IFA’s vast selection include Israeli films, the best of the golden age of Hollywood and gems from around the world.
The festival will open with Sh’chur, a 1995 movie directed by Shmuel Hasfari and written by and starring his wife, Hanna Azoulay Hasfari. It tells the story of a girl from a Moroccan family who has to come to grips with her family’s belief in magic. It features many of Israel’s top actors, including Gila Almagor, Ronit Elkabetz, Albert Iluz and Amos Lavie.
Hamsin is a 1982 film by Daniel Wachsmann that can be seen either as a political allegory or as a story of forbidden love — and it works equally well no matter which angle you choose. Set in an isolated town in the Galilee, it’s about a brother, Gedaliah (Shlomo Tarshish), and his sister, Hava (Hemda Levi), who take care of a small farm together. The brother gets along well with his Arab worker, Khaled (Yasein Shawaf), but when Khaled and Hava fall for each other, it creates a crisis. The movie is still powerful and has held up well, so much better than most films from the ‘80s.
The IFA includes an enormous number of Hollywood classics that don’t get shown as much as they should, and the Re-Film Festival is an opportunity to see them. Many consider Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca to be the greatest film of all time, and there is no substitute for seeing Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman on the big screen.
Fans of Bergman’s luminous beauty will also want to check out one of her lesser-known films which is in the festival, The Four Companions, a 1938 German film by Carl Froelich. Although Bergman was Swedish and started her career in her homeland, she also made some German films in the ‘30s before going to Hollywood. In this film, she plays one of a group of design-school graduates who open a business together.
In addition to Casablanca, there are a number of other American films in the festival. These include Home Alone, which is now 30 years old. Its star, Macaulay Culkin, is almost 40, if you can believe it. It’s a slapstick comedy that children and adults can have fun watching together.
Spike Lee’s 1989 Do the Right Thing, about racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood where demonstrations turn violent after a black man is killed by police, seems especially prescient today in light of the protests against the killing of George Floyd in the US. In addition to Lee, the film stars Danny Aiello, John Turturro and Giancarlo Esposito. While it’s always clear where Lee’s heart lies, characters from all sides of the conflict get a chance to speak, which gives the film real drama.
Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Open, set in New York but filmed in England, stars then-married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in a neo-noir story about love and lust.
William Wyler’s 1936 adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, Dodsworth, stars Walter Huston (John Huston’s father, Anjelica Huston’s grandfather) and Ruth Chatterton as an American married couple who travel through Europe.
Ava Gardner and James Mason star in the 1951 movie Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, a romance about a woman who falls for a mysterious man.
Emeric Pressburger was a Jewish child of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but he emigrated to England and became the most British of all directors. Working with his frequent collaborator Michael Powell, he made the beloved film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp in 1943, the story of a soldier’s rise through the British military.
Vittorio De Sica’s 1950 Miracle in Milan, about an orphan living on the streets, is one of the highlights of Neorealist cinema.
Tadashi Imai’s 1963 Bushido travels back and forth between modern Japan and the history of samurai warriors.
Bruno Barreto’s 1976 romantic comedy, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, is a Brazilian film about a widow who remarries, only to be haunted by the ghost of her first spouse. It was a huge international hit and has inspired remakes all over the world, and it made a star out of Sonia Braga.
To see the full program and to order tickets, go to the festival website at https://jer-cin.org.il/en.