Summer is without a doubt the season of festivals and exciting gatherings all over the globe. This year instead of hitting one of the chill music festival in Belgium, I was lucky enough to join the team of the Jerusalem Film Festival. Despite its financial difficulties due to the recent culture budget cuts, the festival is blowing its 30th candle this year, and is more than ever ready to celebrate Israeli cinema and culture.
Established for few decades now in the Hinnom Valley beneath the Old City walls, the Cinémathèque always embraced the role of showing the best of local and world cinema. They focus on quality and diversity, screening classics as much as experimental films, offering to the cinéphiles and to the curious the opportunity to discover eclectic selections.
The Jerusalem Film Festival, gained with the years a professional and distinguished reputation, and quickly became a major event not only on the Israeli calendar, but also on the international one. Israeli cinema is experiencing a great mutation and is meeting a large success beyond Israel’s borders. Both touching and humorous (and too often political), Israeli films are definitely awakening the curiosity of the cinema lovers, showing all the complexe identities that Israel contains.
The festival opened at the Sultan’s Pool with a film by Reshef Levy “Hunting Elephants” – about four misfits on a revenge mission, a refreshing comedy that was warmly welcomed by the audience. Two of its actors, Sasson Gabai (The band visit) and Monu Moshonov (Jaffa) were rewarded for their career and their amazing talents. The festival started on a festive note, gathering la crème de la crème of the Israeli cinema scene.
Far away from the overdressed and tight festivals like Cannes or Berlin, the Jerusalem Film Festival is a reflection of the Israeli lay back and casual way of life (yes, people were/are wearing flip flops). A very friendly and arty mood is reigning in and outside of the Cinémathèque, you can even enjoy some Tai Chi session among the olive threes in the garden in the morning, or wandering around the Amos Gitai photography exhibition.
My crush so far : “Wild West Hebron“, a documentary directed by Nissim Mossek
“Like all good Westerns, Wild West Hebron challenges the ideas of hero and villain. In the often-violent area of Mt. Hebron, a conflict between Palestinians, Israeli settlers, and anti-occupation activists may seem clear-cut, but the journey of one settler defies common preconceptions.
Yochanan Sharet, born to a Protestant family in Bavaria, visited Israel as a young man and decided to stay. After converting to Judaism, Yochanan made this his home and built a farm on a desolate hill near the settlement of Susia. Soon, he became notorious for his harassment of Palestinians and his clashes with left-wing activist, Ezra Nawi. Two years ago, he suddenly found that the tables have turned. Yochanan’s neighbors from Susia have been attempting to drive him off the land. Accusing him of being a Nazi, these settlers will do everything in their power to evict Yochanan and destroy his farm. With his life and home in danger, his only hope is the settlers’ greatest enemy, Ezra Nawi. Meanwhile, Ezra has been working to bring the Palestinians back to the land they lost, including reclaiming Yochanan’s farm”.*
When | Until July 13th
Where | Jerusalem Cinémathèque : 11 Hebron Rd.
Program | Here
Website | Here
* Jerusalem Film Festival Website