Saturday, May 14, 2011

7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival, May 14-23

Tonight is the opening night of the 7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival. Over the next ten days, the festival presents 18 films divided evenly between documentary and fiction. It gets going with a gala screening of Precious Life, a documentary about an Israeli doctor who works to save the life of a Palestinian baby without an immune system. The film's subject Dr. Raz Somech will be in attendance.

Films screened during the festival include A Film Unfinished, The Matchmaker, Land of Genesis and This is Sodom. Other guests in attendance are director Eran Riklis who will present his film The Human Resources Manager and his wife Dina Riklis' film Three Mothers, and Tomer Heymann who will present his films Bridge Over the Wadi and I Shot My Love.

Unlike the Toronto Jewish Film Festival currently taking place in that city, the Montreal Israel Film Festival features films in and by filmmakers from Israel specifically. The success of this Montreal festival led the organizers to launch a companion Israel film festival in Toronto that takes place annually in the fall.

Films are in Hebrew with English subtitles. The 7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival continues to May 23rd.


7th Annual Montreal Israel Film Festival

Precious Life | 2010
    Shlomi Eldar | 90 min
Sat 14.5 - 9:30 PM Corona | Mon 16.5 - 6:30 PM Concordia

One of the most emotionally thrilling films seen in recent times Thomas Friedman, one of the world's most prominent journalists, best known for his New York Times' articles, dedicated a column to this film, terming it, "a wonderful picture that one must hurry up and see". In an isolation unit in Tel-Hashomer Hospital, an unusual Israeli – Palestinian triangle is formed among a young Gazan woman whose infant son is dying of a hereditary disease, a respected Israeli physician, and an accomplished Israeli journalist who struggle together to save the baby. The fight for life takes place against the backdrop of the war between Israel and the Hamas in Gaza. A precious film.

"The hero here is an Israeli doctor, Raz Somech, working to save the life of a Palestinian baby born without a normal immune system. Another hero is the filmmaker. Eldar is a journalist based in Israel, and in making this film, he surely hoped to build more understanding among people who have been at war for decades. If the film is widely seen, he just might succeed. It will be shown on HBO next year and also will stir audiences at film festivals around the world"
Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter

2010: Israeli Film Academy's Ophir Awards — Winner of the Best Documentary

Precious Life has been shortlisted for an Oscar Academy Award in the Best Documentary Film category.

The Human Resources Manager | 2010
    Eran Riklis | 103 min
Thu 19.5 - 8:30 PM Corona| Sun 22.5 - 6:30 PM Guzzo

Directed by the acclaimed director of "Lemon Tree" and "The Syrian Bride"
Yulia, a foreign worker at a Jerusalem bakery, is killed in a bombing, and an aggressive journalist creates a scandal after her unclaimed body lies in the morgue for a week. To counter the negative image of a big, cold company allowing an employee's remains to rot in the morgue, the business' owner instructs her human resources manager to accompany Yulia's body back to her native land. Far from home, on a mission to honour a woman he didn't even know, the HR manager rediscovers his own humanity. The manager encounters many unanticipated obstacles in attempting to fulfill his mission. Witty and full of character, this is a touching tragicomedy based on a novel by Abraham B. Jehoshua.

"Marvelously crafted! Surprisingly gripping..., emotional and résonant" Andre O'Hehir, Salon

"Intelligent and Engrossing! Warm and Wise" Kenneth Turan, L.A. Times

"Touching! ...Riklis is quickly becoming an international arthouse force." New York Magazine

"[A] humane & observant drama… the film has wit and character!" Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter

"Riveting! Mesmerizing! Stunning!" The Jerusalem Post

2010 : Ophir Prize – best director - Eran Riklis
2010 : Ophir Prize – best film
2010 : Nominated Asia Pacific Screen Award Best Performance by an Actor Mark Ivanir

A Film Unfinished | 2010
    Yael Hersonski | 88 min
Tue 17.5 - 6:30 PM Concordia

The film tells the story of the production of the Nazi propaganda film made in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. It was discovered in eastern Germany in 1954, with only rudimentary editing. Almost every filmmaker who has ever made a documentary about the Ghetto used footage from the film as if it were a truthful representation of the Ghetto's reality. However, journals of the Ghetto's residents and survivors' testimonies, as well as the discovery of a long-missing reel, show an entirely different picture. While the film appears to be a documentary, each and every scene had been meticulously staged. The Nazi camera crew used the Ghetto as a set, with its inhabitants becoming actors and extras, and the rotting corpses in the streets, props. "The Silence of The Archives" reveals the "Behind the Scenes" of the making of this propaganda film. Tough viewing but a historically invaluable documentary.

2010 : Sundance Film Festival — Won World Cinema Documentary Film Editing and nominated for the Grand Jury Prize

San Diego Film Critics Society Awards
2010 Nominated SDFCS Award Best Documentary

Satellite Awards
2010 Nominated Satellite Award Best Motion Picture, Documentary

Nominated Grand Jury Prize World Cinema - Documentary
Yael Hersonski

The Intimate Grammar | 2010
    Nir Bergman | 110 min
Tue 17.5 - 8:30 PM Concordia | Wed 18.5 - 6:30 PM Concordia

Set in 1960s Israel, the film is based on David Grossman's acclaimed 1991 novel "The Book of Intimate Grammar." It follows Aharon, a 13-year-old growing up in a Jerusalem caught between an adult world he detests and a childhood he refuses to grow out of -- physically and mentally. After his bar mitzvah he finds himself entangled in a youthful love triangle, and his vibrant inner life at odds with everyone and everything around him. His imagination is his only escape from his mother's constant humiliation to and the agony of his broken heart. This smart, sensitive and small for his age adolescent finds himself drowning in his own life.

2010 : first prize at the Tokyo international film festival
2010 : first prize at the Jerusalem film festival

Black Bus | 2009
    Anat Yuta Zuria | 76min
Wed 18.5 - 4:30 PM Concordia

The film looks at the lives of two young women who have left the Jerusalemite Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) world in which they were raised. While they may have physically left their ancestral community, they still struggle to fully escape its influences. The two women, whose independent natures have led to their being cast out by their families, speak movingly about their sacrifices. What will happen to them when they can no longer bear being shunned by their family and friends? Which way will they choose? Where will they go? Black Bus "Soreret" tells the story of their independent and courageous attempts to document and change the Haredi society from which they have fled.

2009 : Haifa International Film Festival — Winner of the Best Documentary

The Matchmaker | 2010
    Avi Nesher | 112 min
Sun 15.5 - 6:00 PM Concordia| Sun 22.5 - 8:30 PM Guzzo

The story of a Holocaust survivor, who steadfastly sees the positive in every situation, provides a gripping, entertaining and moving drama.
Like the director's previous films, "Turn Left at the End of The World" and "Secrets", "The Matchmaker" is the coming-of-age story of a young adolescent, this time taking place in 1960s Haifa. Arik, a 16-year old boy, meets Bride, a mysterious matchmaker and a Holocaust survivor. Bride offers Arik work as a detective to look into the credibility of potential matches. Arik, who loves detective stories, readily agrees. While it's obvious that Bride is a fine, caring person, it soon becomes apparent that he's also a smuggler. Arik faces a difficult choice: support Bride or turn him in to the police? The most successful Israeli film of 2010.

2010 : Israeli Academy Award - Maya Dagan and Adir Miller – best actors
Nominated for 7 Israeli Academy Awards including Best Picture
Official Selection of the Toronto International Film Festival.

I Shot My love | 2010
    Tomer Heymann | 70 min
Sun 15.5 - 8:30 PM Concordia

Seventy years after his grandfather's escape from Nazi Germany to Palestine, Israeli documentary director Tomer Heymann returns to the country of his ancestors to present his film "Paper Dolls" at the Berlin International Film Festival. There, he meets a man who will change his life. This 48-hour love affair develops into a significant relationship between Tomer and Andreas Merk, a German dancer. When Andreas decides to move to Tel Aviv to be with Tomer, he not only has to cope with a new partner, but to manage the complex realities of life in Israel and his personal connection to it as a German citizen. The film follows the relationships between Tomer, his German boyfriend, and his fiercely Israeli mother.

Best Mid-length Award
Hot Docs International Film Festival, Canada 2010

Best Documentary
Zinegoak Film Festival, Spain 2011

Audience Choice Award
Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival 2010

Best Film 2010 Award
Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, Poland 2010

Best Director
Madrid GLBT Film Festival LesGaiCineMad, Spain 2010

A Green Chariot | 2005
    Gilad Goldschmidt | 48 min
Sun 15.5 - 3:30 PM Concordia| Mon 23.5 - 8:30 PM Guzzo

Twenty-two year old Sasha wants to be an Israeli more than anything else. He embraces Orthodox Judaism and insists on speaking only Hebrew. He disconnects himself from his Russian past, including shutting out his father and his friends. On the eve of his wedding to an Israeli girl, Sasha receives a package from his aunt. Something in the package changes his life, making him re-examine his life choices, confronting him with his religious/ spiritual world and sending him on a journey, at the end of which he is forced to make new choices about his identity.

2006 : Houston Worldfest International Film Festival — Silver Remi Award
2006 : Religion Today Film Festival, Trento (Italy) — Special prize
2006 : Shanghai International TV Festival — Nomination for Best Actor

Like a Fish out of Water | 2006
    Leonid Prudovsky | 50 min
Sun 15.5 - 3:30 PM Concordia | Mon 23.5 - 8:30 PM Guzzo

A romantic comedy about a recent immigrant from Argentina and his relationship with his Hebrew teacher at the Absorption Center. Marcelo, an actor, is desperately in need of someone to help him improve his Hebrew accent so he is able to pass an audition for an Israeli soap opera. Anat, his religious teacher, looks to be his best hope, but she hates soap operas. She's not so fond of her pupil, either. Anat has her own problems. Her mother, Bruria, a tireless lady, is obsessed with finding a perfect match for her daughter who, in her eyes, has clearly reached – and passed - the right age to marry.

2006 : Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival — Audience Award
2006 : Girona International Film Festival, Besalu Competition (Spain) — Jury Citation

Who are you to me? | 2010
    Dror Reshef | 88min
Mon 23.5 - 6:30 PM Guzzo

This delicate and courageous drama focuses on figures at the edge of society. Mentally challenged Anya manages to live an independently full life. One day, by chance, she meets eccentric Ari, leading to a complex relationship. "Who Are You to Me" is a sensitive and courageous work that trains the spotlight on characters from the margins of Israeli society. Filmmaker Dror Reshef not only chose an unusual subject for his film, but also an independent, challenging and unusual way of making it.

2009 : 9th Milan International Film Festival — Nomination for Best Director

Land of Genesis | 2010
    Moshe Alpert | 87 min
Thu 19.5 - 6:30 PM Corona

Israel – a beautiful landscape filled with incredible wildlife. Internationally, the media's coverage of Israel is strangely and overwhelmingly negative. "Land of Genesis" introduces viewers to a completely different Israel – a country of amazing landscapes and a multitude of plants and wildlife. This tiny country is located at the meeting point of three continents. It hosts five distinctive climatic zones along its 424 km length and 114 km width These different zones create a rich and diverse world of flora and fauna. As the seasons change, the colours countrywide shift and as does the behaviour of the various species found in each geographic habitat.
A stunning and uplifting experience of sound and colour.

Israel's first nature documentary

"Land of Genesis was directed by Moshe Alpert, an award-winning cinematographer who has spent much of the last 30 years filming wildlife in Israel. For the film he has used advanced camera techniques that allow closer access to animals, clearer panoramic views, and sharper focus in darkness, to great effect"
HANNAH BROWN, The Jerusalem Post

Three Mothers | 2006
    Dina Zvi-Riklis |120 min
Thu 19.5 - 3:00 PM Corona

Born in Egypt before 1948, these Jewish triplets immigrate to Israel and grow into three very different young womenone sexy, selfish and wild; one pretty, delicate and devoted; one smart, plain and practical. Each marries and establishes a family, but the bonds of sisterhood prove stronger than those of marriage. The film explores the limits of those bonds as the sisters reveal the decades old secret that has twisted their lives and families together.

"The direction, camerawork, production design, costumes and locals bring alive the period of 1950s and 1960s. The songs enacted by Rose could not have been better. Acting is grade 1. The film is perhaps one of the best, if not the best production at the festival. It's a pity, they don't make such films very often."
Ramnayh Pai Raikar, International Indian Film Festival
"Three Mothers by Dina Zvi Riklis, triplets sisters are born in Aiexandria in 1942. Their saga is one of powerful love and deceit played out in three languages and across three générations"
Hamptons Daily East

2006 : The Jerusalem International Film Festival — Best Cinematography and Best Actress
2006 : Israeli Academy Awards — Best Cinematography and Best Wardrobe Design

Bridge Over the Wadi | 2006
    Director: Tomer Heymann & Barak Heymann | 55 min
Mon 16.5 - 9:00 PM Concordia

Among the scenic hills of the Galilee, Arab villages sit cheek by jowl with Jewish hamlets, but as is often the case in this troubled region, it is politics rather than geography that sets the distance between places and people. Bridge over the Wadi, an elementary bilingual school established by Arab and Jewish parents, aims to overcome this distance. But in a context where each community insists on holding on to its history and narrative of belonging, this noble, and somewhat revolutionary initiative has more than a few hurdles to overcome.

BRIDGE OVER THE WADI begins with the small and familiar to examine the big and complex. New York Times
- Gagnant du Prix du Public Prazdroj Plzeňský: Un Festival du monde, Prague, République tchèque, 2007
- Best documentary: CONTACT - Kyiv Int'l Documentary Festival, Ukraine, 2007; - Meilleur documentaire: CONTACT - Kyiv International Documentary Festival, Ukraine, 2007;
- Asian Documentary Golden Award: Shanghai TV Festival, China, 2007; - Prix du Documentaire d'Asie Golden: Shanghai TV Festival, la Chine, 2007;
- Audience Award VERZIO – Human Rights International Film Festival, Hungary, 2007; - Verzio Prix du Public - Festival international du film des droits de l'homme, la Hongrie, 2007;
- Audience Award Watch Docs – Human Rights in Film, Warsaw, Poland, 2007 - Docs Audience Award Watch - Droits de l'Homme dans le cinéma, Varsovie, Pologne, 2007
-Audience Award One World, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2007 - Prix du Public One World, Bratislava, Slovaquie, 2007

Ushpizin | 2004
    Gidi Dar | 90 min
Mon 16.5 - 4:30 PM Concordia

In Jerusalem, Moshe and Mali, a barren Orthodox couple, find themselves totally broke and destitute on the eve of Succot. As they pray desperately to the Lord to save them, the impossible happens. Their prayer is heard and they accidentally receive a charitable donation. A miracle, however, doesn't come without a test.
Moshe and Mali believe if they'll follow the religious custom of receiving guests (Ushpizin) G-d will bless them with children. But G-d works in mysterious ways. The outrageous behaviour of the unholy messengers puts Moshe and Mali's faith to the ultimate test.

2004: Shuli Rand received the Ophir Award for Best Actor

This is Sodom | 2010
    Adam Sanderson & Muli Segev | 88 min
Wed 18.5 - 9:00 PM Concordia

In this raucous and bawdy comedy, the biblical character Lot tries to resist the temptations of the wicked city of Sodom. As G-d's wrath draws closer, Lot, his family, the leaders of Sodom, and even the avenging angels, are seduced by the delights of gambling, sex and corruption. "This is Sodom" delightfully continues the tradition of off-the-wall, subversive Israeli comedy, combined with a large helping of Monty Python-esque humour.

2010: Israeli Academy Award - Alma Zak - Best Supporting Actress.
Sunday Morning Docs in Collaboration with Copro

Ida's Dance Club | 2009
    Dalit Kimor | 59 min
Sun 15.5 - 10:30 AM Concordia

This life-affirming film highlights Ida's Dance Club, an annual ballroom dance contest, held at a Tel Aviv seniors' club. Its members are between 70 and 90 years of age; many are Holocaust survivors. All are émigrés who have experienced tragedy in their lives, yet they share an infectious joie de vivre.

Gold Remi Award - WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, USA, 2010
The Gold Kahuna Award for Excellence in Filmmaking - Honolulu International Film Festival , 2010
An alluringly beautiful film. It has already been running for 37 weeks straight at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque – moving to tears. And at the end of the screening some of the participants get up on stage and start dancing.
Aviva Lori, Haaretz

Seeds of Summer | 2007
    Hen Lasker | 64 min
Sun 15.5 - 11:45 am Concordia

This is the story of female soldiers in a combat course, training for the most rigorous roles available to women in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Observed during 66 days and nights, the camera reveals the mechanism enabling the transformation of these soldiers from daddies' little girls into disciplined soldiers. At the same time, the film exposes the strict code of the military that gives rise to unique female intimacy.

2009 : Les Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal — Doctape Award – Special Jury Mention

The Worst Company in the World | 2009
    Regev Contes | 50 min
Sun 15.5 - 1:00 PM Concordia

Three awkward men in their late fifties, overweight, bearded with massive glasses, work together at a small family-run insurance agency. They are kind, easy going and sensitive gentlemen, but they know nothing about business and are constantly on the verge of bankruptcy--in all aspects of life. The film documents the men's attempts to survive during 2008's economic crisis.

Curator's Choice - San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, USA, 2010
Best Documentary Award - EcoFilm International Festival, Rhodes, 2010
Student Jewry Award - Kiev International Film Festival, Ukraine, 2010
Mayor of Tel-Aviv -Yaffo Award for a Young & Promising Filmmaker, DocAviv Festival 2009
The film succeeds in turning a boring business into a creative venture with winning characters. Using humor, the film allows each character to develop individually which permits audience empathy at moments of both sadness and happiness - and at a time when the younger generation is trying to save the situation.

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