After making the Academy Awards’ short list for best documentary, the Israeli film The Gatekeepers was named one of the top movies of 2012 by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, comprised of interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet security service, along with Joseph Cedar’s drama “Footnote,” about a father and son who are rival Talmud professors, were two of the top movies of 2012, according to film critics for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Another Israeli film, Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary The Law in These Parts, also made the list compiled by Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan.
Two Israeli documentaries have recently made the Academy Awards’ short list of 15 semifinals,5 Broken Cameras, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi; and The Gatekeepers, directed by Moreh.
Burnat and Davidi’s “5 Broken Cameras” is based on footage that Burnat shot in the West Bank village of Bil’in starting in 2005. Documenting the non-violent struggle against the building of the separation barrier on village lands, the film shows Burnat’s friends and family members being shot and wounded by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and his cameras being smashed one after the other.
Ultra-Orthodox director Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void” is the most popular Israeli film of 2012, after being viewed by some 182,000 people.
This achievement is particularly outstanding in light of the fact that the film is distributed independently and is not screened on Shabbat.
Sources involved in the movie’s production noted that “Fill the Void” was also the most successful Israeli film to be released in independent distribution in the past decade.
In addition, on the first week of its distribution the prize-winning film provided one of the most impressive debuts of an Israeli picture in recent years with 30,000 viewers. In many cinemas, the film’s screening were sold out.
The prizes collected by “Fill the Void” include the Coppa Volpi Award for best actress Hadas Yaron at the Venice Film Festival, the Haifa Cultural Foundation Feature Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival (shared with “Out in the Dark”), and seven Ophir Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Recently, the movie also won the Best Dramatic Film Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival.
In Italy, where “Fill the Void” is screened under the name “The Promised Bride,” it was watched by some 25,000 viewers on its first week. In addition, it has been sold for distribution in 15 countries so far, including the United States, France, Holland, Britain, Spain and Australia.
Two Israeli documentaries have been included on the shortlist of 15 films eligible for consideration for an Academy Award nomination for best documentary film, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced this week.
From this shortlist, five films will be selected for actual nomination for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, which will be presented during the Academy Awards ceremony on February 24, 2013.
The two Israeli films which made it to the shortlist are director Dror Moreh’s “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras” by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi.
Both films’ plots touch on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The Gatekeepers” is comprised of interviews with six Shin Bet directors, who for the first time discuss their service, the dilemmas their struggled with and dramatic and painful moments they experienced.
The film made it to the prestigious Sundance Festival and has been sold for commercial distribution in the United States. It is also one of the Documentary Motion Picture nominees for the Producers Guild of America Awards.
“5 Broken Cameras” tells the story of Emad Burnat, a farmer and photographer from the West Bank village of Bil’in, who documented the villagers’ struggle together with activists from all around the world against the construction of the separation fence on residents’ lands.
Over the years Burnat’s cameras were destroyed by IDF soldiers, and in the film each camera documents a chapter in this life.
“5 Broken Cameras” has been sold to dozens of countries and television stations worldwide and screened in many international festivals.
The International Women’s Film Festival in Rehovot runs from November 5-11, and this year the focus is squarely on the subject of ‘Women and Religion.” The opening film, “Higher Ground” (USA, 2011), shown at the Weizmann Institute, was directed by Vera Farmiga and is about an insular evangelist community that is knocked off-kilter when one of its members begins to doubt her faith. Based on the memoirs of writer Carolyn S. Briggs, who also wrote the screenplay, it depicts a religious woman’s struggles with her heretical thoughts and examines the role of women in religious societies.
The main guest of the festival this year is German director Margarethe von Trotta, who will present her new film “Hannah Arendt,” which was shot partly in Israel and tells the story of the German philosopher who came to Jerusalem in the early 1960s to cover the Eichmann trial for the New Yorker. Another guest is Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, who burst on the international scene with her movie “Egg” (2001) that was shown at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. Martel places women in the center of her movies and is considered one of the most prominent Latin American directors of the past decade. Two more of her films – “The Holy Girl” and “The Headless Woman” – will be screened at the festival. Martel and von Trotta will also both give master classes as part of the festival.
Another intriguing guest, Nadia El Fani, will show two of her documentaries. El Fani is a Tunisian filmmaker and publicist who lives in France, and her movie “Secularism, Inshallah!” depicts the revolution that erupted in her homeland in 2010 and ignited a wave of revolts across the Arab world, and the conflict between secularism and religion that stood at the center of this struggle. The film sparked protest when it was shown in Tunisia, and El Fani faces the threat of arrest should she return to the country. Her other film to be shown at the festival is “No Harm Done,” in which she draws a parallel between her battle with cancer and the results of the revolution. The screenings will be followed by an open discussion with the filmmaker’s participation.
Well, this is called ‘acting.’ But did you feel like an ambassador of the Israeli gay community? Even though you’re not one of them?
“Of course. I talked a lot about Tel Aviv and how modern it is, and how it has become a gay tourist destination. Israel is a very liberal country. I think it’s very important to say it all the time: how liberal Israel is. I also told them about the beautiful beaches in Tel Aviv and how many hot shirtless guys they can find there,” he laughs.
Even though this is the first time Oz is playing a gay character, he says that he jumped on the role when it was first offered to him, especially because he was aware of the success of the movie ‘Yossi & Jagger,’ to which ‘Yossi’ is considered a sequel, around the world. “I think that was one of the main advantages of making this movie,” Zehavi says. “When I got into this project I kind of knew that it was going to be talked about all over the world. To tell you the truth, it was one of the reasons I wanted to do this movie, as a part of my development as an actor globally , and now in the US . Also, I wanted to work with Eytan Fox. He brought out of me something that I haven’t done before. It’s very different than the roles I had usually done in Israel.”
by Dudi Caspi
The Silver Hugo in the international documentaries category went to “Numbered” by Dana Doron & Uriel Sinai, which captures the stories of Holocaust survivors and their relationships with the tattooed serial numbers they got in Auschwitz. The 19 minutes short “Return”, which follows a man attempting to rebuild his life following a psychotic meltdown, by director Shay Levi, won the Gold Hugo for Best Short Film.
Israeli director Nadav Kurtz won the Silver Hugo for Best Short Documentary for his US film “Paradise”, which was filmed in Chicago, and documents three Mexican immigrants who risk their lives washing windows on some of the tallest skyscrapers in the city, while observing life from up above.
Among other notable nationalities represented in the winners list are Hungary, Canada and Sweden. The joint French and German production “Holy Motors”, which co-stars Eva Mendes and Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, came out on top with three wins, including the Gold Hugo for Best Film.