Montreal Israeli Film Festival – While usually, Israel occupies the headlines because of some international political issue, few people know that this small country in the Middle East is also an active hub for film production, some of which have even been released in theatres here in Montreal in recent years. “Foxtrot” was the latest example of the international presence of Israeli movies.
Former Quebec Premier Bernard Landry presided over the opening ceremony of the festival this past Sunday in his capacity as Honorary President of the festival. The film “The Testament” directed by Amichai Greenberg was screened on that occasion.
The Israeli Film Festival continues this Sunday, May 13 with two films: “The Cakemaker (Hebrew with French subtitles) directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, “Thomas, a young and talented German baker, is having an affair with Oren, an Israeli married man who dies in a car crash. Thomas travels to Jerusalem seeking answers. Keeping his secret for himself, he starts working for Anat, his lover’s widow, who owns a small café. Although not fully kosher and despised by the religious, his delicious cakes turn the place into a city attraction.” The other movie featured that day is “Maktub” (Hebrew with EST) by Oded Raz: “Steve and Chuma, two criminals are the sole survivors of a terrorist attack at a restaurant in Jerusalem. They decide to change their ways and become flesh and blood angels. They go on a journey of wish fulfilment for people who write requests on paper and put between the sacred stones of the Wailing Wall.” This film is also shown on Monday, May 14 at 7 p.m. That same Sunday but at 9 p.m. you could see “Montana” (Hebrew, EST) by Limor Shmila: “A young woman returns to her hometown following the death of her grandfather, and begins an affair with a married teacher. She also must confront secrets of her past as she tours the town of her youth.”
On Monday at 7 p.m. the FCIM will present “Outdoors” (Hebrew, EST) by Asaf Saban: “Gili and Yaara decide to leave the city and have a fresh start, building a house in the countryside of the Galilee. But while their dream house is being built, the foundations of their relationship slowly collapse.”
“Scaffolding” (Hebrew, FST) a film directed by Matan Yair is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 and Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. The movie presents the story of a conflicted young Israeli struggling to balance his working life with a new worldview opened up to him by a dedicated teacher.
“The Cousin” (Hebrew, EST) by Tzahi Grad. A hard-hitting, dark comedy that explores the latent prejudice central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” will be shown on May 15 at 7 p.m.
“Shelter” (Hebrew, EST) directed by Eran Riklis, presents a politically-charged thriller: “Eran Naomi (Neta Riskin) is an Israeli special agent assigned to protect Mona (Golshifteh Farahani), a Hezbollah turncoat recovering from identity-changing plastic surgery. Holed up for two weeks in a Hamburg safe house, they form an unexpected but fragile bond over a shared sense of loss and their difficult times with maternity. As geopolitical and psychosexual tensions rise, both women begin to question their beliefs, loyalties and own unfixed identities.”
The closing film on Thursday, May 16 is “Longing” directed by Savi Gabizon, which I had the chance to see at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. I recommend this movie that has numerous twists in its story, from the time when Ariel over lunch with former college girlfriend Ronit is shocked to hear they had a son together, to the moment he learns that their teenage boy has just died. From that moment on he starts a search that would surprise him even more.
This festival is organized by the Sephardi Community of Montreal and all the shows take place at the Cineplex Forum (2313 Ste. Catherine St. West). For more information visit www.fcim.ca
Feature image: Israeli movies have been well received internationally