The first film that Michael Lucas made about Israel was called “Men of Israel” and featured some of this country’s most beautiful male specimens in some of the most beautiful natural landscapes, enjoying each other’s, um, company. It was supposedly the first pornographic film shot on location in the Holy Land with an all-Israeli/Jewish cast and apparently became a hit for Lucas Entertainment, the gay adult film production company that Lucas founded.
Lucas’ interest in Israel isn’t just a filmmaker’s taste for the exotic “other” – it actually stems from his deep and passionate Zionism. The Russian-born Lucas, who is Jewish, has become known for his spicy brand of pro-Israel activism and efforts to beef up gay tourism here.
Among other things, he has written political opinion pieces detailing Israel’s impressive record on gay rights, organized gay tours of the country and recently – and very publicly – pressured the New York LGBT Community Center to cancel meetings and events held by anti-Israel groups.
His latest film, “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land,” premiered this past weekend at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. That’s right, as in a totally legit Jewish film fest in the South.
Lucas’ most recent project is actually a, um, straight documentary about how great it is to be gay in Israel. It features interviews with community activists, gay celebs and politicians, including MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the first openly gay MK elected to the Knesset.
To be clear, neither MK Horowitz, nor any of the film’s other participants, shed their clothes. Lucas, in an interview with the Huffington Post, called the title a “tongue-in-cheek recognition of my background in the adult industry.”
“I’ve been frustrated at how little people know about Israel,” he said in the interview. “[Israeli culture] is actually very progressive and tolerant. That’s especially true when it comes to gay rights, which are more advanced there than in the United States.”
Well, this is quite a welcome respite for the Israeli government, which hasn’t fared so well cinematically this year: Two other high-profile documentaries that earned Oscar nominations, “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras,” highlight the less photogenic side of Israel.
What a relief it must be to Bibi, et al., therefore, that a gay porn kingpin should come to the rescue and restore the country’s good image. Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who recently came out as no longer a homophobe, should be thrilled.
Famous author Clayton Hammond (Dennis Quaid) attends to a public reading of his new book, The Words, centered on Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), an aspiring writer who lives in New York Citywith his girlfriend, Dora (Zoe Saldana). With the help of his father (J.K. Simmons), Rory gets a job as a mail supervisor in a literary agency and attempts to sell his first novel, that is continually rejected by publishers.
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.
COLOGNE, Germany — Out in the Dark, a romantic drama from first-time Israeli director Michael Mayer, has proved a surprise sales hit for Germany’s m-Appeal, which has closed multiple territories on the film following its market premiere at Cannes’ Marche du Film.
Mayer’s film follows the troubled love affair between two men on opposite sites of the Mid-East conflict: the Palestinian student Nimer and Roy, an Israeli lawyer.M-Appeal signed deals with, among others, ProFun for German/Austrian rights and Outplay for France. Both Outplay and ProFun are planning a theatrical release for the title. The sales group said it has received multiple offers on Out in the Dark and expects to seal deals with U.S. and U.K. distributors in the coming weeks.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Israeli teen actress Odeya Rush has been picked to play a young Virgin Mary in a Hollywood prequel to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
The 15-year-old is to star in the film “Mary, Mother of the Christ” opposite Ben Kingsley and Julia Ormond. She has been cast to personify the title character at the ages of 8, 15 and 19. The film is expected to be announced at the Cannes Film Festival in the coming days.
Rush has left her family in Israel in favor of the United States at the age of 9, and has played parts on television shows like “Law and Order” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” She has also snagged a central role in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” a Disney movie starring Jennifer Garner that is set to be released this summer.
“Mary” chronicles the life of Jesus Christ’s mother from childhood. Gibson has no part in this epic, which was penned by “Passion” screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald. Instead, the film is to be directed by Alister Grierson. The casting directors decided against splitting the role of young Mary between three actresses, picking Rush for the job. She reportedly beat out several Hollywood starlets who contended for the gig.
Filming is expected to begin in August, and is set to take place in Malta, Jordan and California.
Rush said that she was somewhat reluctant when she was initially handed the script, but found it completely devoid of anti-Semitic sentiment.
“On the contrary,” she said. “The film emphasizes the suffering inflicted on the Jews by the Romans in those days. It is very exciting for me.”
CHASING ICE (D: Jeff Orlowski, USA)
BIG BOYS GONES BANANAS!* (D: Fredrik Gertten, Sweden)
G-DOG (D: Freida Mock, USA)
WE ARE WISCONSIN (D: Amie Williams, USA)
LIFE IN STILLS (D: Tamar Tal, Israel)
BROOKLYN CASTLE (D: Katie Dellamaggiore, USA)
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (D: Guy Davidi, Emad Burnat; France, Israel, Palestine)
JASON BECKER, NOT DEAD YET (D: Jessie Vile, UK)
CALL ME KUCHU (D:Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Katherine Fairfax Wright; USA)
THE WORLD BEFORE HER (D: Nisha Pahuja; Canada, Germany, USA, UK)