The 35th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, the largest showcase of Israeli cinema and television in North America, unspools this year both in theaters and virtually from May 5th – 26th. The Festival’s Opening Night film on May 5th is director Avi Nesher’s critically acclaimed Image of Victory, nominated for 15 Ophir Awards; the evening also serves to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. With leading Israeli filmmakers and talent in attendance for post screening Q&As, this year’s Festival will include five U.S. Premieres, six West Coast Premieres and 14 Los Angeles Premieres among the 30 award-winning features, documentaries and short films, announced Meir Fenigstein, founder and executive director of the Israel Film Festival in L.A.
“I’m thrilled that the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles is fully back for audiences to celebrate and support Israeli movies and their talented filmmakers. We hope that this 35th edition will be a new, exciting beginning towards continuing to bring the very best of Israeli culture to Los Angeles,” noted Fenigstein.
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To purchase tickets for the May 5th Opening Night Gala and all in-person and online screenings/Q&As visit: www.israelfilmfestival.com starting April 26th, 2022 or call 310-247-1800.
Among the highlights for this year’s 35th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles are:
Berenshtein – In this exciting journey into the depths of the soul, the last surviving member of the great partisans who located Hitler’s secret weapon, the V2 missile development facility, revisits his past as a soldier in World War II. By diving into his traumatic memories, he is forced to grapple with the dissociation and loss of identity that ensued after the war. Despite this adversity, it becomes clear that he is able to stay true to his values through it all. Based on the true story of Leonid Berenshtein.
Cinema Sabaya – This film follows nine women, Arab and Jewish, who take part in a video workshop hosted by a young film director who teaches them how to document their lives. With each raw homemade footage shot by the women and shared with the others, the group dynamic forces them to challenge their views and beliefs as they get to know each other and themselves better.
Greener Pastures – In this hilarious story, a cranky, a retired widower who is low on money and begrudgingly resides in a nursing home, learns that many of his fellow nursing home residents are users of medical marijuana. He soon embarks on a new business venture as a cannabis dealer. When his enterprise attracts the attention of both the police and a local street gang, he must decide whether he is willing to risk everything for what really matters most to him.
Here We Are – Winner of four Ophir Awards including Best Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Screenplay, this is the poignant story of a man who has devoted his life to raising his young adult autistic son. Together they live in a gentle routine, away from the real world until the son prepares to move into a specialized facility to start to learn how to live life semi-independently. While on their way to this new home, the father decides to run away with his son and hits the road, knowing the son is not ready for this separation. Or is it, in fact, his father who is not ready?
Image of Victory – Considered Israel’s largest budget of film to date, the film is inspired by true events in 1948. Hassanin, an Egyptian filmmaker, is tasked with documenting a raid on the isolated kibbutz Nitzanim. When the kibbutz learns of the impending army raid, Mira, a young but valiant mother, is forced to reckon with the true cost of war and make an impossible choice.
More Than I Deserve – An award-winning film filled with emotional depth, the story is about a young boy who asks his single mother, who resists religion, if he can join his classmates in preparing their Bar Mitzvahs. She refuses. A religious neighbor volunteers to help the kid and the two form a strong bond. Gradually the mother falls for him to but will their romance last?
Plan A – Based on actual events and set in Germany in 1945, the film centers on a Holocaust survivor who meets a group of Jewish vigilantes. Together they develop a plan to take monstrous revenge against the German people for the Holocaust: to poison the water system in Germany and kill six million Germans. The film is based on the book “Nakam” by Israeli historian Dina Porat.
Queen Shoshana – An acclaimed documentary about the legendary life story of Shoshana Damari, the internationally known singing superstar who became an icon and a national treasure.
Saving Shuli – A record breaking comedy at the Israel box-office, the film is about three friends who go to Colombia to rescue one of their sons, who has been kidnapped by a drug kingpin.
Summer Nights – Winner of the Ophir Award for Best Documentary, this beautifully sensitive film offers a window into the world seen through the eyes of a six-year-old boy. It is a journey into the subconscious of an innocent and ingenuous child as he falls asleep and drifts into the depths of his own mind.
The following is a full listing of the 35th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL in Los Angeles programming:
IMAGE OF VICTORY | תמונת הנצחון
Dir: Avi Nesher
Based on true events in 1948, two cultures have their values tested as an Egyptian filmmaker is tasked with documenting a raid on an isolated kibbutz commune. As the situation escalates and takes unexpected turns, both sides must re-evaluate everything they know about life and war.
GREENER PASTURES | שאיפה לחיים
Dir: Matan Guggenheim, Assaf Abiri
Dov (79), a penniless widower, lives in a nursing home – and hates it. All he can think about is getting out of there, buy his house back and live there till he dies. When he notices that all his fellow residents smoke legal medical cannabis, he realizes that weed will be his salvation – selling it, not smoking it.
CINEMA SABAYA | סינמה סבאיא
Dir: Orit Fouks Rotem
Nine women, Arab and Jewish, take part in a video workshop hosted by Rona, a young film director, who teaches them how to document their lives. With each raw homemade footage shot by the women and shared with the others, the group dynamic forces them to challenge their views and beliefs as they get to know each other and themselves better.
PLAN A | תוכנית א׳
Dir: Yoav & Doron Paz
Based on a true story. In 1945, a group of Jewish holocaust survivors planned to poison the water system in Germany in retribution for the murder of 6 million Jews. The film tells the dangerous and bold story of the secret-operation, named “Plan A”.
DON’T WAIT FOR ME | אל תחכי לי
Dir: Danni Raisfeld and Roy Gluska
Matan moves to a violent neighborhood after his father goes bankrupt and loses their home. The family tries to pick up the pieces, but the reality makes it complicated. Matan falls in love with Eden and dreams of protecting her from the violent lifestyle.
MORE THAN I DESERVE | יותר ממה שמגיע לי
Dir: Pini Tavger
Pinhas asks his single mother, Tamara, to join his classmates in preparing for their Bar Mitzvahs. Tamara, an immigrant from Ukraine, who resists religion, refuses. When the religious neighbor volunteers to help, the two form a strong bond. Gradually Tamara falls for him too. Will their romance last?
BERENSHTEIN | ברנשטיין
Dir: Roman Shumunov
The last surviving member of the great partisans who located Hitler’s secret weapon, the V2 missile development facility, revisits his past as a soldier in World War II. By diving into his traumatic memories, he is forced to grapple with the dissociation and loss of identity that ensued after the war. Based on the true story of Leonid Berenshtein.
THE DINNER | הארוחה
Dir: Matti Harari, Arik Lubetzki
Emma and Gregory, Russian immigrants, are having a hard time adapting. They cross paths with Alon, an amateur artist and owner of a high-tech company who is in crisis with his wife Yael. Emma works as a nude model at Alon’s studio. By chance, Gregory starts working at Alon’s company. The truth comes out when Alon invites Gregory and Emma to a festive dinner in his home.
APRIL 7, 1980 | הלילה
Dir: Nadav Schirman
On April 7, 1980, terrorists infiltrated Kibbutz Misgav-Am but find themselves trapped in the children’s nursery with hostages less than four years old. Told from multiple perspectives, this is the true story of that night.
THE SWIMMER | השחיין
Dir: Adam Kalderon
Erez, a rising swimming star, arrives at a godforsaken training camp. The winner of the competition wins one ticket to the Olympics. And then there is Nevo, beautiful and gifted, who awakens subconscious desires in Erez.
THE RAFT | הרפסודה
Dir: Oded Raz
Three Israeli teens decide to build a raft and sail to the championship final in Cyprus. During their journey, their friendship will be put to the test as they will get a taste of first love and discover traits and skills in themselves that they didn’t know existed. The innocent adventure evolves into a coming-of-age journey they will never forget.
SAVING SHULI | לשחרר את שולי
Dir: Ben Bachar
Avihu, Nati, and Bezalel (“Ma Kashur” trio) go on a courageous rescuing journey that includes a wide range of legal and not-so-legal activities. Desire parties, organ trafficking, licking a psychedelic toad, and having some trouble with the Colombian Drug Cartel. Will they find Avihu’s son, Shuli? Will they find love? Can you find Jahnun in Colombia?! The answer to all these questions is: Ahlan, Ahlan, Ahlan!
ONE MORE STORY | עוד סיפור אחד
Dir: Guri Alfi
Yarden Gat, is a young and brilliant journalist working on a famous newspaper. When she eventually decides to go on a date, she tells him that she slept with her boss and ruined her friend’s chance of having true love when she made him go out on a date each day of the month with a different woman, only to get a humiliating scoop for the newspaper.
HERE WE ARE | הנה אנחנו
Dir: Nir Bergman
Aharon has devoted his life to raising his son Uri. They live together in a gentle routine, away from the real world. But Uri is autistic, and now as a young adult it might be time for him to live in a specialized home. While on their way to the institution, Aharon decides to run away with his son and hits the road, knowing that Uri is not ready for this separation. Or is it, in fact, his father who is not ready?
TWO | שתיים
Dir: Astar Elkayam
Omer and Bar are deeply in love when they decide to start a family through IVF treatments. Their journey begins full of excitement and support, but after many unsuccessful insemination attempts, their desperation grows and the women are forced to face the conflicts in their relationship.
LET IT BE MORNING | ויהי בוקר
Dir: Eran Kolirin
Sami lives in Jerusalem with his wife and son. An invitation to his brother’s wedding forces him to return to the Arabic village where he grew up. After the wedding, with no explanation, the village is put under lockdown by Israeli soldiers. Chaos rises overnight among those stuck within the walls. Cut off from the outside world, trapped in an unexpected situation, Sami watches as everything falls apart.
SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD | שפאר בדרך להוליווד
Dir: Vanessa Lapa
How did a man in charge of 12 million slaves become “the good Nazi”? A cautionary tale about Albert Speer’s 1971 attempt to whitewash his past with a Hollywood adaptation of his bestselling wartime memoir, “Inside the Third Reich”.
QUEEN SHOSHANA| המלכה שושנ
Dir: Kobi Farag, Morris Ben-Mayor
Shoshana Damari was the first Israeli diva. She graced local and international stages, stirring millions with her beguiling voice and spectacular performance. Yet, behind the larger-than-life persona and her memorable songs was a woman about whom we know little. She didn’t like to be interviewed and never volunteered details about herself and her family. Hers was the life of a Hollywood legend, and she paid the price for it.
THE FOURTH WINDOW| החלון הרביעי
Dir: Yair Qedar
Behind the international success story of Amos Oz, a symbol of the Israeli conscience and a writer translated into 45 languages, lurked a double tragedy. A series of conversations with his latest biographer presented in the film, weaves biographical passages, literature, and conversations with the main people in his life, as Amos Oz tells his last story.
APPLES AND ORANGES| תוצרת חוץ
Dir: Yoav Brill
Some 350,000 volunteers came to work in Israel’s Kibbutzim during the second half of the 20th Century. The eventual decline of this movement is a tale of many conflicts: from politics to religion, cultural clashes, and personal heartbreaks.
DEAD SEA GUARDIANS| שומרי ים המוות
Dir: Ido Glass, Yoav Kleinman
The Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth and one of the wonders of the world – is dying. Three historic enemies join forces on a heroic journey to stop this catastrophe and save the Dead Sea from disappearing.
WOMEN OF VALOR| חיל אשת
Dir: Anna Somershaf
Ultra-Orthodox women are forbidden to run for Israeli parliament. One woman is determined to change this historic ban. Fighting against her own community with her friends, brings a huge personal price, but Esty Shushan won’t stop until she achieves equal rights for 600,000 women.
BLUE BOX | קופסה כחולה
Dir: Michal Weits
The Jewish National Fund’s Blue Boxes were part of a successful fundraising campaign to support the purchase of land in Palestine. Joseph Weits, the filmmaker’s grandfather, was the man who orchestrated the acquisition and expropriation of Palestinian lands. Weits’s private diaries reveal an uncomfortable truth.
RIDING WITH A SPY |להיות ענת קם
Dir: Shlomi Eldar
After being convicted of espionage, ostracized by her people, and marked as a traitor, Israeli whistleblower Anat Kamm tried to rebuild her life in NYC, but her past still haunts her. Unable to find employment and extend her visa, she is forced to return to Israel. In her last months in the US, Kamm goes on a cross-country road trip to meet the American hero Daniel Ellsberg and escape as much as she can the reality of becoming again,” The Anat Kamm”.
SUMMER NIGHTS |לילות קיץ
Dir: Ohad Milstein
How does the world look through the eyes of a 6-year-old child? Summer Nights offers a window into a child’s world: his fears, his desires, his way of thinking. It is a journey into the subconscious of an innocent and ingenuous child, as he falls asleep and drifts into the depths of his own mind.
HIGH MAINTENANCE: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DANI KARAVAN| דני קרוון
Dir: Barak Heyman
As he approaches 90, Dani Karavan embarks on an emotional, political journey. On route, the complex and fascinating character of one of the greatest artists of our time is revealed.
Dir: Adi Arbel
An intimate, exposed and rare portrait of Israeli author, David Grossman, who rarely gives interviews, yet allows the viewers into the depths of his workroom/study and shares these honest, private and intimate insights on camera, and exposes the delicate and complex connection between his novels and his personal life.
THE LAST CHAPTER OF A.B. YEHOSHUA|הפרק האחרון של אב יהושוע
Dir: Yair Qedar
The story of A.B. Yehoshua, the greatest Israeli writer living today – who is dealing with a serious illness, widowhood and loneliness, chooses love and embarks on his final journey. A rare and fascinating look at one of our beloved writers.
ON THIS HAPPY NOTE| סוף טוב – ענת גוב
Dir: Tamar Tal Anati
As she prepares to die, playwright Anat Gov asks literary agent Arik Kneller to execute her will. Their last documented conversation touches upon life, death, and her writings. Consciously accepting her nearing end, Anat leaves behind a spiritual legacy: there is such a thing as a happy ending.