True, the morbidity and economic situation are extremely disturbing, but living without culture and a city without events means great sadness and emptiness. The alternative – the 36th International Film Festival on the home screen – may not make up for the lively atmosphere and outdoor events, but hey, we’re here for the movies, and between us, it’s a perfect solution to the closure.
This year’s film festival was supposed to take place in a limited format on the holiday of Sukkot, after it was decided to cancel it in the summer. Following the Israeli government’s decision on a general closure until after Sukkot, the municipal corporation Athos, which produces the festival, decided to switch to an online format.
The festival’s artistic program includes about 60 new films from Israel and the world, some of which have won awards at important international festivals. The films will be screened in competitive settings, and a special tribute will be dedicated to French director Eric Rohmer – the pioneers of the French new wave – on the occasion of the production of new digital copies of his films.
In this reality, there will be no Israeli feature film competition at this year’s festival. The festival will promote Israeli cinema through events of the traditional film industry, including the Pitching Conference, Cinmarket and TV series, which will also be screened in digital format. According to the organizers, the use of the Zoom app will allow more guests to participate in the festival as they are prevented from coming to Haifa. The competitions will include eight films in the Israeli documentary film competition, 21 student films, short independent films and animated films and 17 films in the Carmel International Competition.
The selected films and award winners from world-leading festivals include three from the Sands Festival 2020: “This is not a burial, this is a resurrection” – the African film by Lemong Jeremiah Moses that won a special jury award; “Exile” by Visar Morina who previously won Best Picture at the 2020 Sarajevo Festival; And “Summertime” by Carlos Lopez Estrada – an international premiere of one of the most talked about films at the Sundance Film Festival which presents a portrait of Los Angeles 2020 using the art of Spoken Word.
From the Berlin Festival came “Berlin Alexanderplatz” – a new adaptation by director Burhan Korbani for a classic by Alfred Dublin. Corbani, a member of a family that immigrated to Germany from Afghanistan, copies the plot of Dublin’s classic novel – already working on a TV series by Reiner Werner Fassbinder – into the Berlin immigrant community today. Corbani has won the blessing of Dublin’s grandson for the project, and he presents a realistic and wide-ranging film about alienation, racism and modern Berlin.
The controversial “Dow. Natasha” by Ilya Kharznovsky and Viktorina Artel, which was screened at the last Berlin Film Festival and won the Silver Bear Award for Special Artistic Achievement, was filmed inside a huge complex built in Kharkov, Ukraine in 2011-2008. Dozens of people, the vast majority of whom are not actors in their profession, lived, loved, went to work and created art in a structure resembling a research institute in the Soviet Union in the 1950s.
Another film from the Berlin Film Festival is “Bad Stories” – a dark legend created by the Italian brothers Damiano and Fabio de Anocenzo and which won the Silver Bear Award for screenplay at the Berlin 2020 Festival.
“In the Evening” – the new film by the award-winning Lithuanian director Ronas Barts – was the official choice of the Cannes Film Festival 2020. The plot of the film takes place in Lithuania under Soviet occupation after World War II. The film will also compete in the upcoming San Sebastian Festival.
From the Venice Film Festival come “The White on White” by Theo Kurt, winner of the critique and directing awards at Horizonti at the Venice Film Festival 2019, and “Our Father” by Claudio Noche presented at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
From the SXSW 2020 festival comes “Aviva” – the new film by Israeli-American director Boaz Yachin – which tells the love story of Aviva, a young Parisian woman who knows Eden, a guy from New York, online. When the two fall in love and start a new life together in New York, they discover that each of them has masculine and feminine energies that struggle with each other. The world that Creator Yachin – in which the two main characters are played by four actors and the rest of the film’s actors are dancers in a seven-piece band – is charming and full of sexuality, but mostly breaks cinematic conventions. And if that’s not enough, Assaf Avidan is in charge of the music in the film.
The Sarajevo 2020 Festival sent “Mara” to Haifa – a film by the Swiss director Andrea Staka with the winner of the Best Actress award, Maria Skaricic.
These are joined by two award-winning films from the Tallinn Festival in Estonia: “Contura” by the Japanese Anshol Chowhan, winner of the Best Film Award; And “Flowers Names” by Iranian director Kennedy Bahman Tawasi, who won a Special Jury Prize.
The eight films in the Israeli documentary film competition are “The Church” directed by Anat Tel, “Eretz Ir” directed by Yaki Elon, “In Mysteries” by Lina Chaplin, “Honey Bitter” directed by Udi Klinsky and Revital Oren, “The Red Veil” by Peter Mostboy, “Leaving Heaven” – Ofer Freeman’s debut film, “Susita” by Avi Weisblai, and Smadar Zamir’s first film “On the Director’s Chair Sits a Woman” – a feminist film essay dedicated to feature film directors in Israel. Through the story of the creation of the first director Elida Gera, through the monologues of 24 active directors and one speech by Ronit Alkabetz, the character of the director emerges.
As part of Israeli cinema, the film “Heroine 2” by Shani Egozin, Shira Schneider, Hava Rochlin and Mia Kaplan, which presents four stories about female courage, will be screened outside the competition. The film was created as a joint project of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University and the Gesher Foundation for Multicultural Cinema.
Another setting is a tribute to French director Eric Rohmer, in which seven of his films will be screened. Rohmer was born Jean-Marie Morris, and began his professional career as a Greek and Latin teacher. He later became a film critic and editor of the “Cinema Companies” magazine. Together with François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chevrolet and Jacques Rivet, Rohmer developed the new wave of French cinema, with his literary films featuring intellectual heroes in witty and deep discourse on emotions and musings as part of their search for love. All seven films have been transferred to new digital copies – “My Night with Maude” (1969), “Claire’s Blessing” (1970), “Afternoon Love” (1972), “Pauline on the Beach” (1983), “Summer” (1986) ), “Winter Legend” (1992) and “Autumn” (1998).
To stay true to the original festival, this time too new horror and suspense films will be screened at midnight, befitting the genre. These are rare and unique films such as “Sputnik” – about a Soviet spaceship that makes an emergency landing after a failed mission, and the only survivor is the commander who soon realizes that something dangerous has reached Earth. Two other films that will be screened in this framework and are considered the most talked about this year are “Relic”, which was defined as a feminist horror film written and directed by women and starring Robin Nabin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Hitkut; And “The Redemption of Fanny Lay” by British artist Thomas Clay, who is considered one of the most talented directors in British cinema.
In the category of adult animation, the film “The Nose or the Conspiracy of the Pioneers” by the Russian animator Andrei Karznovsky will be screened, based on two classic works – the short story “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol and the opera “The Nose” by Dmitry Shostakovich. The film, which celebrates the genius of pioneers who went ahead of their time, went against the flow and paid a heavy price for daring, won a special award from the jury at the Annecy 2020 festival. Another film is “The Wolf House” by Joaquin Cosinia and Cristobal Leon – a dark story inspired by “Three Little Piglets ”and which deals with a young girl who tries to create a safe home for herself to defend herself against a cult leader from which she fled. The film won the Best Picture award at the Annecy Festival.
In the category of films for the whole family will be screened “Pinocchio” – the new adaptation of Matteo Gorona starring Roberto Benini as Grandpa Geppetto; And “A. It’s Happiness” by John Sheid, who won a special jury award at the Berlin Film Festival.
The International Documentary Film will screen “Why I Jump” – winner of the Audience Award for a documentary at the Sundance Film Festival based on the bestseller written by Naoki Hagshida – a 13-year-old Japanese autistic boy; “The Testimony” – Kirby Dick, one of the top documentary composers in the United States, and producer and creator Amy Zering reveal the phenomenon of sexual exploitation in the African-American music industry; “Songs of Oppression” which won the Best Documentary Award at the Copenhagen Film Festival and which reveals one of the most charged affair in the history of Chile – the community of the Colony of Honor led by Paul Sheffer, who forced its members an exploitative lifestyle and sexually abused their children; “Body of Truth” starring artists Marina Abramovich, Sigalit Landau and Sheerin Nasht; “Winter Journey” – a docu-drama about survival during the rise of the German Reich and also the latest film by the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz who passed away; “Lost in Lemansha” and “He Dreams of Giants” – Terry Gilliam began filming “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in 2000. The production collapsed and the film was never completed. The story of a genius who fails to realize his vision was documented in Keith Fulton and Louise Pepe’s Lost in Belmanash. 19 years later, in the movie “He Dreams of Giants”, the two directors return to the set of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” and document Gilliam struggling with his own demons and an impossible barrage of views and succeeding in finishing the film starring Adam Driver and Jonathan Price.
The pitching conference will feature 13 films in various stages of development and production with the participation of local and international creators. Another event will be a meeting between distributors operating in North America to discuss successful Israeli films on screen in the United States and the future of the independent distribution market.
Among the participants in the industry events – British producer Michael Cohn (“Being John Malkovich”), co-CEO of the French production and distribution company Playtime François Ion (“Son of Saul”), director of industry events at the International Film Festival in Norway Gida Miklbost, and director The programs on the German TV channel ZDF Claudia Tronier.
The festival will open on Saturday, September 3, and close the following Saturday, September 10. The viewing experience will move from the halls to the computer screens, TV, tablet and mobile phone, but just like at a regular film festival, there is a screening schedule where each film has a screening date – date, time and even a virtual hall. Unlike a regular festival, it is possible to flexibly choose the film viewing times and build a festival schedule, with each film being available for viewing for 24 hours from the start of its scheduled screening.
Tickets can be ordered and purchased on the festival website until the start of each film. It is also possible to purchase a movie ticket at a discounted price and a festival badge that allows free admission to watch all the festival movies. The number of screenings and the number of tickets for each film are limited, so it is recommended to book a ticket in advance. All films will be screened with Hebrew subtitles. Meetings with the creators will be posted on the festival’s website and will be open for free viewing.
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