Among its other benefits, the Israel Film Festival takes even those of us familiar with the country to places and people we know only superficially, or not at all.
When he was barely out of his teens, Martin Landau was already a successful cartoonist working for the New York Daily News. In fact, the young artist was being groomed by the paper as its next theatrical caricaturist. Landau knew that if he got the job, he would never give it up.
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.
The annual Israeli Film Festival will for the first time be screened in major Australian cities beyond Sydney and Melbourne.
In a small Israeli jail cell, a 17-year-old settler hears the air raid siren that signals the beginning of the Sabbath. From her pocket, she pulls out two travel-friendly candles. When the last of the matches in her small box breaks, her cellmate, a vegan left-wing activist who was on the other side of that morning’s protest, hands the young religious girl her lighter.
The sight of men in uniform dragging religious Jews away provokes a visceral reaction in any Jew: nausea, cramps, tears. It evokes the images of the Holocaust, no matter how dissimilar the situation may be.
American audiences, in particular, will welcome a film that depicts Israelis as three-dimensional human beings, with strengths and weaknesses, rather than the array of no-goodnicks favored by many Israeli directors harshly critical of their own society.
When it comes to the country's large community of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, there is perhaps no performer who's succeeded more in entertainment, or conveyed a more fully developed sense of the U.S.S.R.'s former Jews than Dodina.
The idea for "Tied Hands" began to take shape in the 1990s, when he visited director Amos Guttman, who was living with AIDS and had come back to Israel to die.
Although there are moments when "Frozen Days" feels more like a Calvin Klein commercial than a movie, Lerner ultimately manages to capture the raw emotion of a young woman who's desperate to make a connection and unable to do so in the shadowy world she inhabits.
"Israeli filmmakers are not interested in politics," said Katriel Schory, the head of the Israeli Film Fund.
The upcoming Israel Film Festival represents the culmination of the consulate's developing ties with Hollywood.