By now it has become a celebrated fact that the Israeli creative industry is in the throes of a modern renaissance. This makes the annual Israel Film Festival — set to roll out the red carpet for its 27th year next March — a gift to Los Angeles and its two-week film program an anticipated moment on the city’s cultural calendar.
It’s springtime in Los Angeles, which means raising the curtain on the 26th Israel Film Festival, this year displaying a colorful palette of more than 30 feature movies, documentaries, TV shows and student shorts.
The premise of "Torn," a documentary premiering in the U.S. this week at The Other Israel Film Festival in New York, sounds a bit like the classic rabbi and priest walk into a bar joke. Except that unlike the joke, the Jew and the Christian in the film are one and the same -- Romuald Jakub Weksler-Waszkninel.
Should women have equal prayer rights at the Kotel? It's a question of profound religious, spiritual and political complexities that a new documentary, "Praying in Her Own Voice," by filmmaker Yael Katzir, dares to ask but doesn't attempt to answer.
"This is really a fantastic honor," Cohen said. "It will go in the center of my mantelpiece -- behind my Golden Globe," he joked.
Location, location, location is the secret to many people’s success. But for Meir Fenigstein, founder of the Israel Film Festival, timing is the key.
"Return from India" is one of the 18 new films, documentaries and TV dramas showing at the 19th Israel Film Festival, from May 28-June 8. Based on A.B. Yehoshua's best-selling book "Open Heart," "India," directed and co-produced by veteran filmmaker Menachem Golan, portrays a somewhat preposterous love story between the young Dr. Ben Rubin (Aki Avni) and the older Dori Lazar (Riki Gal) as they accompany her husband (Asi Dayan) to India to save their sick daughter. Golan was nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film including "Entebbe: Operation Thunderbolt" (1977) and "Sallah Shabati" (1964); his film "The Assault" (1986) won the Oscar.
On the surface, it could have been any other Hollywood industry event: legendary producer Mike Medavoy and actress-director-producer Penny Marshall received awards before the festival-opening movie screening at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Business as usual in Hollywood.
During a pivotal moment in Elan Frank's award-winning documentary, "Blue and White in Red Square," a Russian-Israeli looks about his old Moscow neighborhood with an expression of dismay. Eugene had excitedly made the trip home with fellow musicians in the Young Israeli Philharmonic, many of them émigrés returning for the first time to post-Communist Russia. But as the violinist gazed at his decrepit old apartment building, surrounded by garbage and graffiti, his exuberance turned to bitter disappointment. "I feel like a stranger here," he said.
The 14th annual Israel Film Festival formally raised the curtain last week on its two-week program of 50 feature movies, documentaries, TV films and golden oldies with an opening-night gala at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.