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:: Spotlight :: 2011 AICE Israeli Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Australia and Israel have many cultural ties and our love of movies is just one of them. Israel’s film industry continues to flourish and the 2011 AICE Israeli Film Festival gives us great movies by some of Israel’s best filmmakers.

Israeli films continue to feature in major film festivals all around the world - Cannes and Sundance to name but two. With local box office consistently on the rise, Israel is consolidating a vibrant film industry. Now in its 8th year, the AICE Israeli Film Festival brings us the stories and vision of Israeli filmmakers that will thrill, move and excite audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. The Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) aims to engender understanding in a way of life that may be different to our own.

The 2011 program:

FEATURE FILMS

‘The Matchmaker’ (Once I was) Directed by Avi Nesher and starring Adir Miller, Maya Dagan, Tuval Shafir, The Matchmaker won the Panavision Audience Choice Award for Best Feature at Israel Film Festival NY 2011. Set in Haifa in the summer of 1968 a teenage boy goes to work for a matchmaker who has survived the Holocaust and finds his life irrevocably altered. The Matchmaker is a tender story of love, loss and survival in the aftermath of the Second World War.

‘The Slut’ (Hanotenet) Written and directed by Hagar Ben Asher and starring Hagar Ben Asher, Ishai Golan, Icho Avital and Yoav Levi, The Slut was shown as part of the Official Selection at Critics Week in Cannes 2011. This provocative film tells the story of 35-year-old Tamar who in her perfectly stable life enjoys the sexual freedom of having multiple partners in the small village where she lives. Her world is disrupted when a young man comes to the region, meets Tamar and falls in love with her.

‘Intimate Grammar’ Directed by Nir Bergman and starring Yehuda Almagor, Roee Elsberg, Evelyn Kaplun. Winner of Best Feature Film at the Jerusalem International Film Festival 2010 and the Sakura Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival. It focuses on three years in the life of Aharon Kleinfeld, the boy who stopped growing. Perhaps he is afraid of growing up and becoming like his crude parents, or maybe he is just a late bloomer, in need of a little more time. But nobody has the time to wait.

‘Infiltration’ (Hitganvut Yehidim) Directed by Dover Koshavilli and starring Oz Zehavi, Guy Adler and Michael Aloni. Infiltration featured in the 2010 Jerusalem International Film Festival and received the Israel Film Center’s Distribution Award. An adaptation of one of Israeli literature’s most celebrated novels; it is a candid look at a platoon of newly-recruited Israeli Soldiers undergoing basic training in 1956.

‘Rabies’ (Kalevet) Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado and starring Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva and Ania Bukstein. Part of the Official Selection for Tribeca Film Festival 2011, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 and Israel Film Festival, New-York 2011, it was awarded the Critics’ Award at Fantasporto 2011. This is Israel’s first ever slasher film and tells the story of a serial killer who runs amok in a forest.

‘Mabul’ (The Flood) Directed by Guy Nattiv and starring Shmil Ben Ari, Yakov Cohen and Ronit Elkabetz, Mabul was awarded Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography and Best Young Actor at Haifa Film Festival and Best Supporting Actor at the Israeli Academy Awards. It is the powerful story of Yoni, whose life is complicated and growing up in a dysfunctional family does not make it any easier. He's almost 13, extremely gifted, but physically undeveloped and struggles daily to grow up before his threatening upcoming Bar Mitzvah.

‘Naomi’ Directed by Eitan Tzur and starring Suhel Haddad, Rami Heuberger, Melanie Peres and was featured as part of Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival. The act of a husband, jealous to the point of obsession with his young and beautiful wife, threatens to destroy everything he has spent his life working for, as well as his hopes for the future.

‘2.Night’ Directed by Roi Werner and starring Yaron Brovinsky and Keren Berger. Set in Tel Aviv, a city where everything is possible, a guy and a girl are searching for the impossible – an available parking spot. Their plan to have a one-night stand is becoming nigh impossible as they traverse the city. Through the many hours of the night, their lust at first sight begins to develop into something more.


DOCUMENTARIES
‘Teacher Irena’ Directed by Itamar Chen. Winner of the DocAviv International Film Festival for Best Editing, Teacher Irena is the story of Irena, a third grade teacher in an elementary school in the “Katamonim” - a neighbourhood in Jerusalem, a place of poverty and unemployment. The lives of 26 children have undergone a significant change this year due to the dedication and kindness of Irena.

‘Revolution 101’ Directed by Doron Tsabari Revolution 101 won Best Editing and Best Original Score at the Israeli Academy Awards and Best Script and Best Editing at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. One Israeli filmmaker sets out on a quest to take on the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation and ensure that more Israeli content is being shown to the public.

‘Blood Relation’ (Kirvat Dam). Directed by Noa Ben Hagaï Blood Relation has won a string of awards: Best Human Rights Documentary by Amnesty International; Best Documentary at Montpellier International Festival; Best Documentary at Women’s Film Festival Israel and Second Best Documentary at Doc Aviv, Israel. Blood Relation chronicles the various meetings between members of a Jewish-Arab family over the course of three years in both Israel and Nablus. When Ben-Hagai discovers letters from her Great-Aunt Pnina who disappeared at age 14, she sets out on a painful quest and finds family in the Palestinian Territories. She uncovers a story that could only be told in the war-torn Middle East, about one family, on both sides of a conflict.

SHORTS PROGRAM

Including the award-winning short at Cinefondation, Cannes Film Festival ‘Diploma’ by Yaelle Kayam. 15-year-old Samer insists on taking his older sister Ayat through the streets of Hebron at night past curfew to collect her diploma from the Palestinian University.

The Festival will run in the following cities:
Sydney - August 23 - 28 at the Palace Verona
Melbourne - August 30 - September 4 at the Palace Cinema Como & Palace Brighton Bay