The Israel Film Center Festival, presented by JCC Manhattan, announced special events and a detailed program for the 2015 edition of the festival, to take place in New York and Westchester from June 4-11. The festival features U.S. and New York premieres of the top recent films out of Israel's budding cinema industry.
Guests include renowned Israeli directors whose works will be presented at the festival, including Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree, The Syrian Bride) director of A Borrowed Identity and Shira Geffen (Jellyfish), director of the closing night film,Self Made, among many other emerging voices in the burgeoning Israeli film scene. The festival will also present events with celebrated actors such as Alon Aboutboul (The Dark Knight Rises) who stars in Is That You? and Mili Avital (Stargate).
The Israel Film Center Festival hosts a diverse array of films, talent and themes which will be embraced at JCC Manhattan’s signature post-film discussions. Post-film conversations include guests from the Berlin Film Festival favorite Youth, directed by Tom Shoval, about rebellious teenagers in Israel who decide to kidnap a local girl in order to overcome their family’s financial issues. Other films with timely themes are the Cannes Film Festival favorites, The Kindergarten Teacher, directed by Nadav Lapid, about the disturbing relationship between a teacher and a child prodigy, as well as Next To Her directed by Asaf Korman, about a young woman taking care of a sister on the autistic spectrum.
Isaac Zablocki, Artistic Director of the festival, states, “All of the films in this year’s festival follow a new trend in Israeli cinema to relate to social issues in Israeli society, while finding levers to resonate with global audiences as well.”
The more traditional modern Israeli cinema themes of military and religion will also be presented from new perspectives and through a new light with films includingTuviansky, directed by Riki Shelach.
Tuviansky is a historical narrative feature film about an officer in the early days of the Israeli army who is the only other man apart from Adolf Eichmann to have been executed in Israel. This forgotten tale in Israel’s history evokes social questions on the misuse of power that are still very much alive today.
The Holocaust confronted from the point of view of young, third generation of Israelis who move back to Berlin in the film Anderswo — Anywhere Else, directed by Ester Amrami. Apples From the Desert, directed by Matti Harari and Arik Lubetzki and based on Savyon Libbrecht’s celebrated eponymous novel, tells the story of a woman who leaves the orthodox community in Jerusalem for secular life on a kibbutz. And, in the bold documentary Sacred Sperm, director Ori Gruder deals with sex in the ultra orthodox community.
Finally, the 2015 edition of the festival presents the first film on Israel’s emerging football league in Touchdown Israel, directed by Paul Hirchberger, which brings together diverse sectors of the population including Arabs, Jews, the religious and the secular.
Special events include a roof top screening of the classic Sallah Shabati by Ephraim Kishon, in honor of the 50 year anniversary of the film’s release. Kishon’s son will present the film.
The complete line up of films is as follows:
A Borrowed Identity
(Dir. Eran Riklis, 105 min)
Eyad, who grew up in an Arab town in Israel, is given the chance to go to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem. He tries desperately to fit in with his schoolmates and is isolated until Jewish classmate Naomi befriends him. Eyad's other lifeline is Yonatan (Michael Moshonov), whom Eyad is assigned to help with schoolwork. Both are misfits: one in a wheelchair, the other an Arab. Through love, friendship, tradition, and conflict, Eyad struggles to find his identity. Based on the books of Sayed Kashua.
Anderswo — Anywhere Else
(Dir. Ester Amrami, 84 min)
In this amusing drama, Noa decides to fly back to Israel after nine years in Berlin, where she felt misunderstood and alone. Before long, old conflicts resurface and are joined by new ones in her old homeland. When her boyfriend Jörg shows up in Israel, her two carefully separated worlds collide as she tries to come to terms with herself and others.
Apples from the Desert
(Dir. Matti Harari, Arik Lubetzki, 87 min)
Based on the acclaimed novel by Savyon Liebrecht. Rebecca, the only daughter of ultra-Orthodox parents from Jerusalem, begins to secretly expose herself to the secular world. When her strict father decides to set her up to marry an older widower, she runs away from her family to a kibbutz in the desert with a young man.
Is That You?
(Dir. Dani Menkin, 81 min)
After Ronnie (Alon Abutbul) is fired from his job at the age of 60, he sets off to America in search of his childhood love. His road trip through the ins and outs of multiple states turns into a life-changing journey.
Kicking Out Shoshana
(Dir. Shay Kanot, 100 min)
In this comedy starring Oshri Cohen and Gal Gadot, an Israeli soccer player, Ami Shoshan, is forced to pose as a gay man after being caught flirting with the girlfriend of an Israeli mobster. Shunned by his teammates and fans alike, Shoshan nevertheless finds himself a hero of the gay community in Jerusalem.
The Kindergarten Teacher
(Dir. Nadav Lapid, 120 min)
A kindergarten teacher discovers a five-year-old child has a prodigious gift for poetry. Amazed and inspired by this young boy, her fascination becomes an obsession as she is determined to protect his primal talent before the passage from boyhood to adolescence changes his purity.
Next to Her
(Dir. Asaf Korman, 90 min)
Chelli is raising her sister Gabby (Dana Ivgy) who has developmental disabilities. When Chelli meets a man, her complicated life gets further tangled and her relationship with her sister begins to play a new role.
(Dir. Ori Gruder, 60 min)
An eye-opening documentary exploring one of the biggest taboos in Orthodox Judaism. The ultra-Orthodox director candidly searches his community of parents and rabbis on how to educate their male children about sex and how to keep the commandments that call to abstain.
Special Screening in honor of Ephraim Kishon: Sallah Shabati on the Roof!
In commemoration of 50 years since the release of Sallah Shabati and 10 years since the passing of Ephraim Kishon, join us for an outdoor screening of the Israeli classic starring Chaim Topol.
(Dir. Paul Hirschberger, 81 min)
America's favorite sport is spreading to Israel and bringing together a diverse cast of characters. Osraeli Jews, Muslims, Christians, Americans living in Israel and religious settlers all play together. The film explores the power of sports as a unifier in a complex, multifaceted society.
(Dir. Riki Shelach, 82 min)
In 1948, six weeks after the state of Israel was established and amidst the chaos of the formation of a new military force, Captain Meyer Tuviansky was accused of treason. He was arrested, tried, sentenced and executed, only to be exonerated one year later. Based on a true story.
(Dir. Tom Shoval, 107 min)
Two teenaged brothers share a strong, almost telepathic connection. They feel their family is falling apart due to a financial crisis. They decide to take action, and kidnap a young classmate in an effort to solve the family’s problems.
Self Made: Closing Night Film
(Dir. Shira Geffen, 89 min)
In this surrealistic drama, an Israeli artist and a Palestinian employee of a furniture company are both trapped within their respective worlds. When the artist finds her furniture is missing a screw, the two women’s worlds collide and they find themselves living the life of the other on the opposite side of the border.
Vote for your favorite Israeli film that was released in the U.S. this year. The winning film will be announced on opening night and screened on Thursday, Jun 11 at 9pm.
Zero Motivation: Female Israeli soldiers are posted to a remote desert base and spend their time pushing paper until they can return to civilian life.
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem: An Israeli woman (Ronit Elkabetz) fights for three years to obtain a divorce from her devout husband, who refuses to grant his permission to dissolve the marriage.
The Farewell Party: Levana and Yehezkel, a married couple in a retirement home, love being together until a pair of devastating challenges suddenly threatens to divide them.
For more information, please visit: israelfilmcenter.org/festival