Bethlehem Yuval Adler, Israel North American Premiere
Bethlehem tells the story of the unlikely bond between Razi, an Israeli secret service officer, and his Palestinian informant Sanfur, the younger brother of a senior Palestinian militant. Razi recruited Sanfur when he was just 15, and developed a very close, almost fatherly relationship to him. Now 17, Sanfur tries to navigate between Razi’s demands and his loyalty to his brother, living a double life and lying to both men. Co-written by director Yuval Adler and Ali Waked—an Arab journalist who spent years in the West Bank—Bethlehem gives an unparalleled, moving and authentic portrait of the complex reality behind the news.
Monday September 9, 10 PM Scotiabank 3
Wednesday September 11, 4 PM Scotiabank 4
Sunday September 15, 6:30 PM Scotiabank 4
A Place in Heaven (Makom be-gan eden) Yossi Madmony, Israel North American Premiere
Jewish religious law permits the trade of a seemingly non-transferrable concept: another person’s place in heaven. This is the story of a highly-decorated retired general who, in a moment of arrogance during his youth, sold his place in heaven to an army cook for a plate of shakshouka.
Monday September 9, 6:45 PM Scotiabank 14
Wednesday September 11, 6:45PM Scotiabank 4
Sunday September 15, 9:15 AM Scotiabank 3
The Wonders (Plaot) Avi Nesher, Israel International Premiere
A mysterious prisoner — part con man, part prophet — is held in a dark and musty Jerusalem slum apartment. His neighbour is a cool cat graffiti artist who is reluctantly drawn into this real life film noir plot. Based on a true story. Starring Adir Miller, Ori Hizkiah, Yehuda Levi, Yuval Scharf and Efrat Gosh.
Sunday September 8, 6:45 PM Scotiabank 4
Tuesday September 10, 3:15 PM TBLB 2
Sunday September 15, 12:15 Scotiabank 3
The Israeli audience’s encounter with American cinema is usually mediated through Hollywood and the blockbusters it brings to our cinemas in commercial screenings. But the United States has many active independent filmmakers whose movies do not enjoy mass distribution around the world.
For these filmmakers, Robert Redford founded the successful Sundance Festival which is held every year in the state of Utah. In addition, starting this summer, some of them will be exposed to the Israeli audience as part of a new festival for American independent films.
Dizengoff Square in the heart of Tel Aviv received a heaping dose of Hollywood glam when a wide red carpet was put down and posters featuring the sweating muscles of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson were displayed as part of the Israeli premiere of “Pain and Gain.”
The cameras and flashes were all turned on a beautiful blonde – tan, tall and very thin – wearing a clingy dress in deep beige and a satisfied smile. Bar Paly, the Israeli model-turned-actress, with her back to a huge photo featuring her likeness, was there for the recent premiere of “Pain and Gain,” which opens in Israeli cinemas on Thursday, and in which she plays the female lead, Paly’s first significant role on the big screen.
“Pain and Gain” is the latest movie by Michael Bay, the producer and director behind mega box office hits such as “Transformers,” “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys,” and one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. The dark comedy, being distributed here by the Globus Group and coming out this week on Blue Ray in the United States, is based on a real-life story about steroid-crazed bodybuilders in Miami who, in the 1990s, kidnapped a Jewish businessman in order to seize control of his assets. In this frenetic, violent film, Paly plays the femme fatale Sorina Luminita, an East European stripper recruited by the gang that’s determined to pursue the American dream in a particularly unpleasant way.
Eight years ago, Paly left Tel Aviv to try to break into the movies in Hollywood. After a long waiting period, she is now having her big breakthrough. This past year has been especially eventful: Besides playing the female lead in “Pain and Gain,” she filmed two other movies, “Non-Stop” and “Million Dollar Arm,” playing alongside actors such as John Hamm, Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. She continues to represent Oliver Peoples luxury eyeglasses together with actor Ray Liotta, and has also become well-known in men’s magazines, which include her on their lists of the world’s most beautiful women.
She joins the company of other Israeli women who have in recent years done well in Hollywood, such as Ayelet Zurer (“Angels and Demons,” “Man of Steel”), Gal Gadot (“Fast and Furious”) and Moran Atias (“Third Person”), who all seem to have alluring good looks and feminine strength in common.
“I think the attraction to Israeli women stems from the fact that we’re exotic and the fact that there are many talented and beautiful women in Israel,” says Paly, in Hebrew, on the phone, which she answers in a high-pitched, somewhat childlike voice, and an accent combining an Israeli foundation layered with Russian inflections and some American grace notes. “I think that there is also greater awareness of Israel than before in the movie industry.”
She is speaking from her parents’ place in Tel Aviv, where she grew up as an only child. “My parents have always given me whatever I wanted,” she exclaims. “Took me to the ballet, the opera, museum exhibitions. I was always surrounded by art. It’s their fault I’ve become an actress.”
Bar was born Barbara in Russia, and moved to Israel with her parents when she was seven. When asked where she was born, she’ll only say that she comes from the Ural Mountains – a 2,500-kilometer-long mountain range – and burnishes her aura of exotic mystery a little more.
In the roles Paly has played to date she has succeeded in creating comic characters that combine her obvious beauty with an appealing sort of clumsiness. She says she has never tried to project any sort of identifying image or brand. “I just like doing comedies, and think that my timing and love for the genre set me apart from other young women who look like me. The actresses I most admire are Cameron Diaz and Sofia Vergara. They’re amazing comedic actresses and also gorgeous. That’s the direction I’d like my career to go in.”
A visit to Israel and positive statements about Israelis – that’s all it took for Iran to erase every single memory of the career of one of its most famous filmmakers, prize-winning Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Makhmalbaf , 56, visited Israel about two weeks ago as a guest of the International Jerusalem Film Festival, courageously promoting a cultural dialogue between the two people, Iranians and Israelis.
“I am proud to have paved the way for Iranian cinema in Israel,” he told BBC Persian. “Boycotting and writing statements does not solve anything. It only leads to war.”
Mohsen Makhmalbaf is the most senior Iranian to officially visit Israel. During his visit, he held a meeting with journalists and film critics in Jerusalem and told them he was the first Iranian director to allow a commercial screening of his film in Israel. he added that he was breaking a taboo and hoped others would follow in his footsteps.
“We have to get to know each other through art, literature and cinema, so we can become friends and end the hostility. That’s the reason I filmed my latest movie, ‘The Gardener,’ in Israel. I hope Israeli filmmakers will be able to shoot films in Iran,” he said.
In a candid interview to Yedioth Ahronoth on the eve of his arrival in Israel, the veteran director expressed his hope for peace and a change in his homeland, and praised Israel and the Israelis.
“In a previous secret visit here, I looked at the faces of young Israelis and saw the faces of my children and their friends,” he said. “I thought I was coming to a military country but discovered a democracy instead.”
The Iranian authorities, however, were quick to respond to the positive public and media buzz created by the Israel visit. The official Iranian cinema association declared a full boycott on all of the films made by Makhmalbaf, who left the Islamic Republic in 2005 after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
The cinema organization ordered all museums and cinema to erase every single memory of the famous director and boycott him forever.
Senior Iranian officials referred to Makhmalbaf as a “rootless and soulless man” following his visit to Israel. The official Iranian news agency called him a “traitor.”
But while some Iranian academics and artists condemned Makhmalbaf over his visit to Israel, a group of journalists and artists published an open letter praising him for his courage.
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.