A year after the Venice Film Festival held a retrospective of his work, Israeli director Amos Gitai is about to return to the prestigious event – this time competing for the Golden Lion Prize with his new film “Ana Arabia,” which was shot in one take.
According to the Italian festival’s artistic director, Alberto Barbera, Gitai accomplished his mission successfully and is now nominated for the highest prize given to a film at the festival, which runs from August 28 to September 7.
Gitai, 62, shot “Ana Arabia” after completing his work on a personal project, “Lullaby to My Father,” which he dedicated to his father, architect Munio Weinraub.
“Ana Arabia,” which was shot in one 81-minute take by Giora Bejach, stars Yuval Scharf, Yussuf Abuwarda, Norman Issa, Uri Gavriel, Assi Levy, Shady Srur, Sarah Adler and others.
The film follows seven characters living on the Jaffa-Bat Yam border in a community isolated from the real estate reality of the surrounding city. The arrival of a young journalist who meets with the residents evokes passions, trauma and disappointments from the past.
Oscar-winning Jerusalem-born actress Natalie Portman is expected to direct and star in a film adaptation of Israeli author Amos Oz’s novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” which will be shot in Israel in the near future.
A report six years ago revealed that Portman was interested in making her directing debut with Oz’s story, and planned to film it in Hebrew. Now that movie is finally expected to go into production in Israel, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund announced.
This week, the Fund approved NIS 1.6 million to support the film, the highest amount it has ever pledged for a single movie. “A Tale of Love and Darkness” is an American-Israeli co-production, and will be produced by Ram Bergman, Eli Shirmor and David Mandil. The screenplay was written by Portman.
The official synopsis of the movie plot describes it as a “movie adaptation of Amos Oz’s autobiography, which takes place in Jerusalem in the second half of the 1940s and focuses on the author’s childhood in light of his mother’s mental illness and his father’s helplessness; in the context of the historic events of the period.”
The filming is scheduled to begin January and February in Jerusalem, and Portman is expected to play the author’s mother. Since the action takes place in the 1940s, it will require the proper costumes and scenery for the period.
Portman is expected to remain in Israel for the period of the filming but will also come to visit earlier to take part in the preparations. It has not yet been decided whether the movie will be filmed in Hebrew, as Portman promised in the past.
The Jerusalem Film Fund will also invest NIS 3.19 million in five other Israeli film projects. In total, the Fund received 114 applications for projects and 11 were approved with funding, a total of NIS 6 million.
Israeli director Yariv Horowitz’s has won the Best Director Award at the 2013 Skip City International D-Cinema Festival held in Japan for his film “Rock the Casbah.”
The film, which stars actors Yon Tumarkin and Angel Bonanni, was produced by brothers Moshe and Leon Edery. It became a box office hit in Israel and was sold for distribution and screening in many countries, including France, Austria and Russia.
“I’m very satisfied with the global recognition,” said Horowitz. “The film deals with an entire generation of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who experienced maturity in the territories and in Gaza.
“I couldn’t dream of a more dignified stage to present my story and my friends’ story to the world,” he added.
The award-winning Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is scheduled to arrive in Israel in two weeks as the Jerusalem Film Festival’s honorary guest.
Makhmalbaf, one of the leading figures in the new wave movement of Iranian cinema, has been a sharp critic of the Iranian regime in recent years. He has directed more than 20 films, in addition to his work as a producer, screenwriter and editor.
His most recent film, “The Gardener,” is scheduled to be screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which kicks off on July 4. The movie, which was partly filmed in Israel, was first screened at the recent International Film Festival Rotterdam.
“The Gardener” follows a man from Papua New Guinea who tends the Bahai gardens in Haifa, where he deals with the role religions play in politics and in fomenting war and peace. It was filmed by Makhmalbaf’s son Maysam Makhmalbaf.
The Jerusalem Film Festival will also screen several of Makhmalbaf’s other movies, including “Gabbeh,” “Kandhar” and “Salam [Hello] Cinema.”
The film festival runs from July 4-13.
Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran in 1957. As a young man he was involved in underground Islamic activity, for which he was imprisoned for four years. He was released after the Islamic Revolution.
Watch a Chinese film crew capturing the magic of Jerusalem’s Old City as a backdrop for a full-length romantic comedy.
The artists worked with the Israel Ministry of Tourism to arrange the filming of the movie, “Old Cinderella,” starring Zhang Jingchu. “It’s a great pleasure to be here in Jerusalem and in Israel,” the actress says. “It’s amazing.”
In recent years, more and more foreign film companies are choosing Israeli settings for their works. Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other locales provide a dramatic and visually rich landscape for feature films.
Israel’s Keshet International has stepped up efforts to get its formats into Canada by launching a local joint venture headed by former Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting executive Mark Rubenstein.
The global distribution arm of the Keshet Media Group is also eyeing tie-ups with Canadian producers to make original content as it expands its global footprint.
Keshet International earlier launched U.K. and Australian offices.
In the latest move, Rubenstein and Keshet International managing director Alon Shtruzman hammered out the joint venture deal for Canada, which holds the rights to more than 50 properties to be adapted under the Keshet Canada banner.
“Keshet’s swift international growth in recent years is a testament to the company’s ability to transcend international borders with its innovative scripted and unscripted programming,” said Rubinstein.
Recent Canadian distribution deals by Keshet International include Video Services Corp acquiring the broadcast, DVD and VOD rights for Prisoners of War, off of which Homeland is based.