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The Jerusalem Film Festival will light up the capital with sparkling cinema

CM 18/08/2021

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The 38th Jerusalem Film Festival, which is returning as a live event from August 24-September 4, will bring audiences the best of recent Israeli and international films and it has been an especially strong year for both. The festival’s home base is the Jerusalem Cinematheque, but there will be screenings and events in other theaters and at various points around the city.
The festival will open with a festive open-air screening at the Sultan’s Pool Amphitheater of Ari Folman’s animated docu-drama, Where Is Anne Frank, a look at the life of the famous diarist from the point of view of a teen today. Folman is best known for the innovative animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir, and Anne Frank received rave reviews when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
B-movie connoisseur Quentin Tarantino and his wife, singer/model Daniella Pick, will be guests of honor at a tribute to the films of the legendary Israeli-run production company, the Cannon Group, from August 26-28. Tarantino selected the movies that will be shown, which include Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly with Mickey Rourke, Andrey Konchalovskiy’s Runaway Train with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts and The Delta Force with Chuck Norris.

Every year, the Israel Film Archive digitally restores an Israeli classic and this year it is Uri Zohar’s Big Eyes, a 1974 film. Zohar stars in it as Beni Furman, a womanizing basketball coach, and Arik Einstein as his friend who is also a basketball player. Members of the cast and crew usually attend these screenings, although it seems unlikely that Zohar, now an ultra-Orthodox Rabbi, will be there.
The Haggiag Competition for Best Israeli Feature Film is probably the most anticipated part of the festival. This year it will include Tom Shoval’s latest film, Shake Your Cares Away, about the widow (Bérénice Bejo, the French/Argentinian actress who starred in The Artist) of a wealthy Israeli who invites a homeless family to live with her. Shoval’s film, Youth, won the top prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2013. Among the other films in this section are Pini Tavger’s More Than I Deserve, about a stressed Ukrainian single mother whose young son is drawn to the warmth of a haredi family in their building and Adam Kalderon’s The Swimmer, which looks at an athlete training to compete in the Olympics who falls for a teammate and stars Omer Perelman Striks of Shababnikim.
The International Competition features a number of films that have won praise at film festivals all over the world. Julia Docournau’s Titane was the big winner at the Cannes Film Festival this year, taking home the Palme d’Or. It tells the story of a father who is reunited with his son after 10 years, during a wave of unsolved violent crimes. Her previous film, Raw, was about a woman who becomes a cannibal and Titane is reportedly just as intense.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island is about a filmmaking couple (possibly based on her and her former partner, Olivier Assayas) who settle down to write on Fårö Island, the island where Ingmar Bergman lived, and find themselves haunted by memories of an earlier relationship. It stars Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps. Joachim Trier is known for literate and intelligent movies, and his latest, The Worst Person in the World, is a romantic comedy about a young woman who thinks she has found the one – again.
 'Bergman Island' (credit: JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL) ‘Bergman Island’ (credit: JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL)
Kirill Serebrennikov’s latest film, Petrov’s Flu, is about a comic-book artist in contemporary Russia who finds fantasy and reality blend during a day when he comes down with a virus.
The Gala section features the Israeli premieres of a number of high-profile films. These include Dominic Cooke’s The Courier, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) in a story of a British businessman recruited to become a spy during the Cold War. Anthony Hopkins was the surprise winner of the Best Actor Oscar this year for his performance in Florian Zeller’s The Father, the story of a man experiencing symptoms of dementia, which also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Olivia Colman co-stars as his daughter. Nicolas Bedos’s OSS 117: From Africa with Love is the third entry in a spy-parody series starring Jean Dujardin. Whether you love him or hate him, you may be curious to see Woody Allen’s latest film, Rifkin’s Festival, a look at a couple attending the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, which stars Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a documentary by the musician Questlove, about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and occurred around the time that Woodstock happened. The festival featured performances by Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Sly and the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson and many other acts, and the film makes use of archival footage that recently resurfaced.
New movies by a number of established directors will be shown in the Masters Section, including a new film by Naomi Kawase, True Mothers, about a couple who adopt a baby and get a surprise years later when a woman claiming to be the child’s biological mother shows up. Kawase made the beautiful films Sweet Bean and Vision, among others. 
There will be a number of films of special Jewish interest. Among them are Ukrainian director Sergey Loznitsa’s Babi Yar, a documentary about the notorious 1941 massacre of more than 33,000 Jews by Nazi and Ukrainian troops. The film will be shown in the Master’s section and won a special mention at Cannes. Christophe Cognet’s From Where They Stood is a documentary about a handful of concentration camp inmates who risked their lives to document the Holocaust through photographs. Marta Popivoda’s Landscapes of Resistance is about Sonia, a Yugoslav partisan, who was one of the leaders of the resistance movement in Auschwitz. The film lets its subject tell the story in her own voice.
Vanessa Lapa’s Speer Goes to Hollywood is a look at a strange chapter in the life of Hitler’s chief architect, who tried to turn his life into a major motion picture, which is part of the Diamond Competition for Israeli Documentary Films. Other films in the Diamond competition are Yair Qedar’s The Last Episode of A. B. Yehoshua, about the acclaimed writer and Shlomi Elkabetz’s Black Notebooks, which was just shown at Cannes and which features video diaries that provided the raw materials for the trilogy of films about his family that he wrote and directed with his late sister, actress Ronit Elkabetz.
The Israeli Cinema Special Screenings section features Kosher Rehab, a documentary by Anna Oliker, about American drug addicts from Hassidic families who come to Jerusalem for an innovative drug treatment program; David Fisher’s The Round Number, which explores the significance of the number six million as the tally of Jews murdered during the Holocaust; and Anna Somershaf’s A Woman of Valor, a look at Esty Shushan, who crusaded for the right of ultra-Orthodox women to run for the Knesset.
The In the Spirit of Freedom section was created by festival founder Lia van Leer to focus attention on human-rights issues around the world. This year, the films in this category include Lingui, a drama by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun about a single mother in Chad whose daughter is pregnant and how she fights to get her daughter an abortion. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan may spark interest in The Return: Life After ISIS, a film by Alba Sotorra Clua about two women from America and the UK who chose to join the group in Syria and tell their stories.
The Classics section includes Max Ophuls’s masterpiece Letter from an Unknown Woman, starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan; F for Fake, Orson Welles’s meditation on the art of illusion; and Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice.
The Polish Institute in Tel Aviv will present a tribute to the legendary science-fiction writer, Stanislaw Lem in honor of his 100th birthday and will screen the short film Przekladaniec, directed by Andrzej Wajda and based on the short story by Stanislaw Lem. At this event, a panel including Ari Folman will discuss Lem’s work.
There are a number of competitions for short films, as well as sections devoted to experimental and avant-garde work. In addition, the festival includes Industry Days, a variety of events for film professionals that bring together Israeli filmmakers and the international industry.
Dr. Noa Regev, the festival director and CEO of the Cinematheque, and Elad Samorzik, artistic director, are carefully planning the festival’s events in accordance with Health Ministry regulations. Since the 2020 festival was all online, Israeli cinephiles have been eagerly awaiting the 2021 edition and screenings and events are likely to sell out. To order tickets and see the full program go to https://jff.org.il/en

Source: Jerusalem Post

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