ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL 2009 - PREVIEW
Two big family dramas – Lost Islands and Shiva - and films from new
filmmakers characterise this year’s Israeli Film Festival, which tours its
program of 11 features and some shorts around Australia during August and
September 2009, writes Andrew L. Urban.
Lost Islands, the most successful Israeli film domestically in 2008 with 200,000
tickets sold, will open this year’s Israeli Film Festival (August & September,
Sydney & Melbourne, organised by the Australian Israel Cultural Exchange).
Written and directed by Reshef Levy, it is loosely based on his own family’s
story “and is full of drama, comedy and pathos,” says festival artistic director
Katriel Schory. It’s set in the 80s and begins, curiously enough, with the
opening credits and footage from the 1976 Australian TV series of the same name,
created by Roger Mirams.
The family has five children – two of them the eldest, twin boys, Ofer and Erez.
When they both fall for the same girl, a rift develops. The film’s mood is
lighthearted at first, almost like a sitcom, but gradually the darker elements
rise to the surface as the father is disabled in a car accident and the boys
clash over army service and the family begins to splinter. Great performances
from the entire cast and strong direction made this a highly popular film in
Israel – for good reason. It’s a rich, textured and satisfying screenplay.
"a world of impulses, jealousy, power struggles and
Among other highlights of the 11 films in the program is another strong
family drama, Seven Days (Shiva), which opened Critics Week in Cannes. A large
Moroccan family gather to mourn the sudden death of a brother. Set in 1991 and
the background of the first Gulf War and daily missile attacks, the traditional
seven days of mourning provide a stifling and intensive atmosphere, creating a
world of impulses, jealousy, power struggles and paybacks. Long term rivalry and
financial problems come to the fore as each of the siblings is faced with their
frustrated ambitions. The mood is sombre, underlined by the relentless black
wardrobe of mourning, and the intensity never lets up.
Many films included in the program are by first or second time directors – Omri
Givon's 7 Minutes In Heaven won the Best Film award at Haifa. For the past year,
Galia has tended to her comatose boyfriend, Oren, and her own injuries. The
event leading to it is a blur. The Jerusalem bus… the explosion… waking up in
hospital… Most of Galia's recollections come from reports by others. But with
the passing of Oren, Galia realises that to move forward, she must confront and
reconstruct that one horrific day. Omri Givon’s visual style and carefully
constructed narrative incorporates multiple genres – from romance, to thriller
to ghost story
Ori Ravid secured Lior Ashkenazi and Tzachi Grad for his film Eli and Ben,
Zrubavel is the first feature-length drama created by Ethiopian-Israeli
filmmakers and Bruria is veteran documentary film-maker Avraham Kushnir's debut
feature, about a contemporary ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem which is thrown
into crisis as Bruria, wife and mother, goes on a quest to find the last copy of
her rabbi father’s book. Controversial on publication, the book was burned by
his religious opponents and the family denounced. Her husband Yaakov is opposed
to the quest, but the search for the book becomes a crusade for Bruria during
which she confronts the compromises she has made in her life, her desires and
"representing the voices of the future"
“We have included three award-winning short films by graduates of the
acclaimed Ma'ale Film School – representing the voices of the future,” says
Published August 20, 2009
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