Less than a month after Israeli filmmakers proved a strong presence at the Cannes Film Festival, the 24th Israel Film Festival will play in Los Angeles June 3-18, with a lineup showing how Israeli cinema has recently emerged as a contender on the global scene. The more than 30 films — including 12 features, 10 documentaries and TV programs to screen at the Fine Arts in Beverly Hills and Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 in West Hills — spotlight some of the best recent Israeli fare to hit theaters.
These include three movies that swept the Israeli Oscars last year: The opening night film is Reshef Levy’s semiautobiographical drama, “Lost Islands,” the top-grossing Israeli movie of 2008; “7 Days,” by Ronit Elkabets and Shlomi Elkabets, examines the breakdown of a Moroccan Israeli family after the death of one of its members; and “Waltz With Bashir,” a nominee for best foreign film at the 2009 Academy Awards, will screen for anyone who missed the theatrical release here last December.
“The movies this year are more varied than ever,” said Meir Fenigstein, the festival’s founder and executive director. “They reflect the trend of personal, rather than military stories, which are universal and one of the reasons Israeli cinema has become so successful on an international level.”
“Zrubavel,” the first film to emerge from an Ethiopian Israeli, already has won kudos on the festival circuit from New York to Addis Ababa; “It All Begins at Sea,” about a family grappling with issues of friendship, love, sex and death, won the innovation award at the Montreal World Film Festival; and Dror Zahavi’s “For My Father,” a love story involving a suicide bomber, received a prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.
The festival will continue to help further Israeli cinema by hosting a luncheon promoting new production incentives, as well as providing a place to introduce Israeli artists to Hollywood. While the festival screens annually in three American cities, including New York and Miami, the Los Angeles event is key, according to Fenigstein. “The directors aren’t just coming to introduce their films but to meet people in the industry,” he said.
For tickets, screening times and general information, call (1-877) 966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com.