Critically acclaimed Israeli feature lands best European discovery and best cinematographer awards in Estonia
Israeli film “Lebanon” has won two awards at the 23rd European Film Awards in a ceremony held in Tallinn, Estonia on Saturday. The film won the European Discovery Award and the Carlo di Palma Cinematographer award given to Giora Bejach.
Shmulik Maoz’s critically acclaimed feature was nominated in six categories, including best European film. “It’s unusual to win the discovery award when you’re almost 50-years-old,” Maoz said in his acceptance speech.
“Lebanon” tells the story of an Israeli tank crew on the first and chaotic day of the First Lebanon War. It was first screened at the 2009 Venice Film Festival and became the first Israeli feature to win the prestigious Golden Lion Award.
The film has since went on to receive many international awards and only last week landed the best script award at the Asia Pacific Film Festival.
The biggest winner at Saturday’s award ceremony was Polish director Roman Polnaski with his film “Ghost Writer” which won a total of six awards including best European film, best director and best script.
Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Armenian chefs from Israel team up to bring home gold medals in culinary world cup, while bringing down political divide with food. ‘If we can collaborate in kitchen, why can’t leaders?’ asks Muslim chef Imad Shourbagi
The team representing Israel in an international cooking championship could not be more diverse: A Jew, a Muslim, a Christian and an Armenian make up the Israeli squad that competed in this year’s Expogast Culinary World Cup in Luxemburg.
Armenian Sarkis Yacoubian, Jewish Charlie Fadida, Muslim Imad Shourbagi and Christian Johnny Goric – these four chefs were selected so as not to neglect any sector, and to send audiences a message of coexistence.
They arrived in Luxemburg last week motivated to show chefs from all corners of the world what can be done with a quail and some olive branches. They returned with three gold medals and their share of battle stories.
On November 23, after four years of preparation and several sleepless nights, the chefs could finally allow themselves to breath easy. With the medals in their hands, they took the time to thank the man who so greatly contributed to their victories: Antonio, a cook in a Luxemburg restaurant.
Only a few days earlier they did not know Antonio, but he became their savior during the games. Upon arriving to Luxemburg, they found out that the kitchen promised to them for preparations simply did not exist. “I told myself that nothing will come out of it,” Fadida said. “We wanted to pull out of the race.”
After wandering around the city searching for a solution, they found Antonio, who was kind enough to allow them make use of the restaurant where he works. They cooked in the kitchen and utilized the basement, as well as the laundry facility of the hotel where the restaurant was located – laundry facility being fancy name for a moldy cluttered room with loose cables hanging from the ceiling, littered with cigarette butts.
“We began looking for pots here, and we found things that haven’t been used in years,” Fadida said, referring to the so-called laundromat. “You can succeed even in tough conditions.”
Assisted by four honor students from the east Jerusalem culinary institute Notre Dame, they cooked to the sound of the washing machines. With the combination of religions and ethnicities, it was not surprising that the Italian Antonio proudly spoke of how nice his new friends were and how glad he was to see them return with medals.
In gratitude, the contestants made the restaurant workers an ethnic meal influenced by their diverse origins, and Johnny Goric gave Antonio a wooden cross – a memento from the holy land.
Goric, who cooks at the InterContinental Hotel in Jericho and is the chef for the Norwegian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, has made meals for King Abdullah II of Jordan and former French President Jacques Chirac. In 1994, he cooked for the-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
He dreams of opening a restaurant in Israel, while not discarding the possibility of immigrating to Sweden, because he has had enough of politics – a subject the chefs purposefully avoid in the kitchen. “Clearly each one of us has his own feelings,” he said. “As chefs working together, we don’t pay attention to it.”
Calm rules these chefs’ kitchen; no one pelts frying pans or rubs salt in anyone’s wounds. Chef Imad Shourbagi is used to the company of his teammate Fadida, since they work together at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. “Charlie and I are like brothers,” he says, but admits that he doesn’t understand the Israeli leaders, and their difficulty of arriving at an agreement.
“If we are getting along, what is the problem of the ones in leadership?” he asks. “Unfortunately, it’s a small minority that makes the decisions. We can’t let it take over our lives. To each his own beliefs, that what I teach my children.”
Sarkis Yacoubian was the one to initiate the collaboration, which is dubbed “Taste of Peace.” He was born in Beirut, and after visiting his grandmother in Jerusalem in 1967, his family was forced to stay when the Six Day War broke out. “The borders were closed and we couldn’t leave,” he said. “So we stayed and started over. I’m not sorry about it.”
Yacoubian said he emphasizes with the Jewish people, since the Armenian people suffered multiple hardships as well. “For 25 years I have grown among Arabs, and 25 years among Jews. I have friends on both sides. It’s not an issue of religion and nationality, it’s an issue of being a human being,” he said.
Twenty-year-old Moussa was one of the four sous-chefs picked from the Notre Dame school to accompany the team to Luxemburg. Born in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter, he currently lives in the Qalandiya refugee camp.
“We don’t have any problems in our kitchen,” he said while meticulously ridding a roasted eggplant of its innards. “We cook like brothers, everything together. The chefs are great people, they speak gently and patiently.”
The diverse team inevitably drew much interest during the competition, and caught the attention of the World Chefs Association Societies President Gissur Gudmundsson, who came to their corner for some wine and chocolate. The collaboration is a model for chefs all over the world, Gudmundsson said while writing down tips the chefs gave him.
According to Gudmundsson , everything begins and ends in the kitchen; chefs cook for many powerful people, and have the power to kill more people than a bomb. On the other hand, he noted, everyone must eat, so when there’s food, there’s peace.
New Tourism Ministry application features photo and video upload capabilities to Israel tourism social media forums
The Israel Ministry of Tourism announced recently the release of the new iSrael iPhone and iPad application – providing travelers with detailed information on sites, tours, accommodation and events in Israel.
The free iSrael application will feature up-to-date information about travel to Israel, including mapped directions to heritage sites, nature reserves, leisure activities, archeological sites and museums. Users of the application may also build customized tours of Israel complete with photographs and multimedia.
“We are very excited about the release of the new iSrael iPhone application,” says Haim Gutin, Israel Commissioner for Tourism, North and South America, “which will help travelers tour Israel with the latest and most advanced technology.”
The application will be regularly updated by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, and users can also instantly upload their own photographs and comments to Israel tourism social media forums, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/goisrael ) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/israeltourism ).
To download the iSrael application in English or Hebrew, type “Israel tourism” in the Apps search bar on an iPhone or iPad, or visit http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/israel-tourism/id393773314?mt=8 .
Canadian teen heart-throb to perform at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on April 14. Organizers expect to attract 60,000 people
As reported by Yedioth Ahronoth, seven Israeli producers negotiated with Beiber’s representatives. The one who eventually succeeded in striking a deal with the popular singer is producer Marcel Avraham, who was behind the Israel concerts of Elton John, Rod Stewart, Metallica and Leonard Cohen.
The initial plan was to hold the concert at the Ramat Gan Stadium, but the 16-year-old singer’s rising popularity promoted the production team to gamble on the Yarkon Park, with the hopes of filling up the grass with 60,000 teenagers.
Bieber began his musical career at the age of 12, when his mother posted clips of cover songs he performed. Last year he released his debut album “My World”, which was a huge success. All of the album’s songs made it to the Billboard music charts in the United States – a historic achievement in itself.
Bieber’s biggest hits were his debut song “One Time”, which topped the charts in dozens of countries, and ‘”Baby”, which became the most watched clip on Youtube in July, with more than 360 million views.
The cost of his performance in Israel is estimated at more than $1.5 million.