February 22, 2007
Israeli filmmakers garner praise in Berlin
"I Have Never Forgotten You," a documentary on the life and work of Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, was warmly received at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, which concluded this week.
The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as "a moving testament ... that will be viewed for generations to come." Richard Trank, the film's director, said he hoped that the documentary would keep Wiesenthal's example alive.
Trank also co-wrote the script with Rabbi Marvin Hier, founding dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose Moriah Film division produced the picture.
"I Have Never Forgotten You" screened as an official entry in the festival's Berlinale Special, which featured works linked to current events and deserving particular attention.
Israeli filmmakers also did themselves proud at the Berlin festival, which ranks with Cannes and Venice as the most important events of their kind in Europe.
New York-born Joseph Cedar, who came to Israel as a child, won the Silver Bear award as the festival's best director, besting, among others, Clint Eastwood of "Letters From Iwo Jima" fame.
Cedar's movie, "Beaufort," details the final days of the last Israeli unit to be evacuated from the Beaufort Castle in Lebanon in 2000. He is the rare Israeli filmmaker who is also a religiously observant Jew and himself served as a paratrooper in Lebanon.
"It is obvious we're against war and it's horrible," Cedar said after winning the award. "Hopefully, this film will give insight into the specific nature and how absurd combat and war are."
Another Israeli entry, "Sweet Mud" by Dror Shaul, won the top prize, the Crystal Bear, in the festival's Generation section for films about children and teens. The film depicts the struggles of a boy growing up in a 1970s kibbutz.
Making it a triple play, Eytan Fox's "The Bubble" took top honors in the festival's International Confederation of Art House Cinemas competition. The film follows the romantic relationship between two men, one Jewish and the other Palestinian.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor