Woody Allen’s romantic comedy, “To Rome With Love,” is to open the 29th Jerusalem Film Festival, which begins on July 5.
The film, the first Allen has appeared in since “Scoop” in 2006, tells four different stories of adventures and misadventures in the Italian capital.
Allen plays a retired director who visits Rome and tries to promote the career of a man who sings quality opera, but only when in the shower.
The film also stars Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni and Penelope Cruz. The 10-day film festival features dozens of films in a variety of categories.
Last year, at the 28th Jerusalem International Film Festival, more than 200 films were screened over 10-days.
Achievement awards were granted to Israeli director Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride,” “The Human Resources Manager”), critic, lecturer and artistic director Nachman Ingber and Hungarian director Bela Tarr, the festival’s guest that year.
It’s impossible to review “Anne Frank” without mentioning a few words about the events that led up to the show’s production in Israel. The work’s choreographers, Israeli-born Offer Zaks and his wife Venezuelan María Barrios, co-founded one of the leading dance companies in Caracas.
But when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heard about rehearsals for the company’s new work, “Anne Frank,” he ordered the subject be changed to the Palestinians’ suffering. When the choreographers refused, he dispatched soldiers to shut down their company, Ballet Contemporaneo de Caracas, and confiscate its equipment and costumes. Zaks and Barrios fled to Israel to stage “Anne Frank” here as part of the National Youth Theatre Festival.
The Holocaust, and particularly a well-known story such as Anne Frank’s, is a complex theme for any choreographer. Her story cannot be made abstract or transferred to another time or place, as is the trend with many post-modern dance productions that draw inspiration from the past. Anne Frank’s story, recounted from the perspective of an honest and innocent young girl, demands artistic treatment that avoids over-sophistication and excessive dramatization. Zaks and Barrios manage to do just that.
They have succeeded admirably in portraying life in the “secret annex,” the tiny apartment in Amsterdam where Anne and her family hid during World War II, where the majority of this production is set. The movement language of Zaks and Barrios, familiar to us from past performances in Israel, is solid and expressive with a foundation in classical ballet. As befits the subject, the movement reflects fear and emotion. Moments of tension contrast sharply and vividly with moments of catharsis and joy. These, in turn, feel like a type of escapism from the dreary, claustrophobic reality inside the annex.
The production’s originality finds its strongest expression in the direction and design. Some of the highlights include readings of Anne’s diary by Ilanit Gershon, whose fresh voice and clear diction evokes the enthusiasm of a young girl, and video projections of historic footage of a speech by Hitler, aerial bombardments of the Netherlands, radio broadcasts from London and photographs from the concentration camps.
The historical documentation provides a chilling context for what goes on in the annex, reminding us that despite the artistic representation of the Franks’ private lives, we are still watching events from a true story. The relationship between private and public is effectively conveyed as pages of Anne’s diary unfurl like a scroll on the annex walls throughout the performance. The pages increase as time passes, reminding us that the occupants endured in their environment for years.
All of the dancers act and perform skillfully. Emily Meghnaci, particularly charming as Anne, combines vitality, vulnerability and resilience. Veteran dancers Zaks and Barrio are also a pleasure to watch. They radiate authenticity and simplicity.
Realism only becomes too overpowering when S.S. troops, portrayed superficially, break into the annex. The performance could have effectively concluded with film footage from concentration camps, the unfurling of a giant Nazi flag and barbed wire spreading across over the diary’s pages. These symbols are powerful enough. Seeing Anne being escorted by two soldiers was unnecessary. Still, the ending, in which her father, Otto Frank, returns to the secret annex, tears down the Nazi flag and discovers the diary, is moving.
“Anne Frank”: choreographed and directed by Offer Zaks and María Barrios. Costumes and accessories: María Barrios. Stage design: Batya Segal and Michael Pick. Video: Pixel Studio. Scenery: Ziv Voloshin. Music: Collage. Dancers: Emily Meghnaci; Offer Zaks; Amy Azuz; María Barrios; Liron Ozeri; Liron Cohen; Anatoly Schenfeld; Or Danon; Matan Rechlis and Elad Livnat, with the voice of Ilanit Gershon. Performed on June 12 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
It was a trip down memory lane in Tel Aviv over the weekend for devoted Israeli fans of Afghan Whigs – one of the leading alternative rock bands of the 1990s.
The Whigs’ enthused followers were more than happy to dish out good money to have their flashback trip to the ‘90s, with some 80% of those in attendance during Friday’s show being males – but then again, the band was always a peculiar kind of boy’s club.
Frontman Greg Dulli opened Friday night’s show with a rendition of “Crime Scene Part One,” accompanied by dramatic lighting and velvet curtains. The effect was of exhilarating sensuality recalling the dangerous, dark imagery of David Lynch.
During the show, Dulli and his band took their Israeli fans back to the days of teenage angst and the unrequited loves of their teens.
At 47, Dulli is still looking great. He was accompanied by five pals, including some members of the original band and some from other projects, among them multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson on the cello and keys who provided the perfect backdrop for Dulli’s baritone croons on the dark-side of love and relationships.
The band included fan favorites from its iconic, commercially successful 1993 album “Gentlemen,” such as the dirty, distortioned, grungy rock “I’m her slave”; the upbeat “Uptown Again”; and funk laced rock perfected in the ‘90s “When We Two Parted” – which made the crowd reach their arms out in a hopeless attempt to reach them. There was also a playful verse or two of “Purple Rain” at set’s end.
The two Tel Aviv shows were part of a summer reunion tour that includes London, Finland and Norway. Meanwhile, Israeli fans have been treated to some of the biggest names in pop and rock in 2012, with Madonna opening her global tour in Israel earlier this year, and the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to perform in Israel in September.
During the five first months of 2012, 1.4 million visitors arrived in Israel, a number that is 4% higher than the previous record set in 2010.
Israel also set a record in incoming tourism during the month of May, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday.
“The consistent increase in incoming tourism and the new record highs prove that the investment in the industry contributes to increased income for the economy and creates tens of thousands of new jobs,” said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.
“Against the background of the ongoing global economic crisis, the importance of investment in engines for growth becomes sharper and tourism is a central player in maintaining the robust Israeli economy,” he added.
Based on data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 1.4 million visitors arrived in the months January – May 2012, 6% more than the same period in 2011 and 4% more than 2010, which was a record year. Of these, 1.2 million were tourists, 3% more than the same period last year.
In May 2012, another record was set with incoming tourism (visitors and tourists). About 321,000 visitors arrived in Israel, 4% more than the monthly record of 308,000 reached in the months of May 2010 and 2011. Among the tourists (those spending more than one night in Israel), about 269,000 arrived in May 2012, 1% more than the previous record set in May 2011.
There was an increase in those arriving by air with 1 million entries during Jan-May 2012 (2% more than the same period last year) and about 182,400 tourists crossed into Israel by land, 10% more than the same period last year.