The Israeli Film Festival (IFF), one of the longest running film festivals in Singapore, has come of age.
In its 19th edition, the IFF once again showcases Israel’s unique culture and flair for creativity through stunning cinematography and original storylines in 7 award-winning films of 7 different genres.
It is evident the organisers had carefully selected the films based on issues such as family, youth and growing up that will resonate with residents and locals despite being a foreign film festival.
Audiences, especially younger ones, can definitely identity with the universal themes such as the coming-of-age storylines. From the lead character’s struggle to be a man at his upcoming bar mitzvah in the opening film The Flood to 16-year-old Shlomi taking care of his dysfunctional family in Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, the films tackle issues relevant to a trying and familiar phase we have all been through – the pains and joys of growing up as a teenager.
Award-winning directors’ works featured in this year’s festival are namely The Flood, The Human Resources Manager, Ajami, Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, The Matchmaker, Lost Islands and Walk On Water. Urbanwire checks out the must-watch in this year’s festival.
Opening this year’s festival is this award-winning director Guy Nattiv’s The Flood. Following Tolstoy’s famous claim that “unhappy families are each uniquely unhappy—and, by extension, uniquely compelling”, this film proves his theory right via a storyline of a dysfunctional family, complete with brilliant directing, cast and screenwriting which brings humanity and depth.
Winning a Crystal Bear-Special Mention at the 2011 Berlin International Film festival, as well as a total of 6 nominations at the Israel Academy Awards, The Flood tells of a story about 13-year-old Yoni and his family, with him struggling to quickly build up his physique as a man for his upcoming Bat-Mitzvah.
The story becomes interesting when Tomer, the older and autistic son, has to be brought home after the institute in which he’s been living in shuts down, destroying the balance of their ordinary lives. Having not seen his brother for 10 years and having to deal with him, much is brought up such as past mistakes and painful truths.
Nominated for Best Actor, Actress, Best Picture, and Best Sound at 2010 Israeli Film Academy Awards. Won Best Supporting Actor at 2010 Israeli Film Academy Awards. Won Crystal Bear-Special Mention at 2011 Berlin International Film Festival.
The Human Resources Manager
A black comedy not often experienced by our locals, The Human Resources Manager is filled with much wry humor, partnered with compassion. Revolving around a HR manager for a big bakery in Jerusalem, who constantly puts his career first and is prone to breaking promises to his daughter.
The story develops as he receives news about a female employee who had passed away in a terrorist bombing, and the owner of the bakery orders him to accompany the body back to a Balkan country to her relatives.
The characters of the main protagonist unravel as each personality reveals to be complex when forced to interact with one another. With the characters not having any names to symbolize the simplicity of their jobs in the bakery, the film is a tragically hilarious, touching the hearts of many.
Won Best Director, Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actress at 2010 Israeli Film Academy Awards.
Shot entirely on a hand-held digital video camera, Ajami is a crime drama set in a neighbourhood that comprises of a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views amongst religion, namely Jews, Muslims and Christians.
13-year-old Nasri and his older brother Omar live in feat after their foolish uncle puts the entire family in danger after wounding a prominent clan member. Young Malek works an illegal job in Israel to save his mother’s life with the money earned. Religious views are challenged when Palestinian Binj dreams of a bright future with his Jewish girlfriend. Jewish policeman Dando wants revenge when his brother is found dead in the West Bank.
With impeccable timing and plotting and amateur actors – that worked well with the subject matter and film imagery, the film showcases the spirit of the community in Jaffa and tolerance of the Arab-Jewish relations in a Jewish state.
Palestinian Scandar Copti and Israeli Yaron Shani’s collaboration examines how the troubled relationship between their countries is the norm in the Middle East.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at 2010 Oscar Academy Award.
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi
Having seen the film at a limited screening several years ago, the film turns out to be a nice surprise that this writer fondly remembers of. The film centres on 16-year-old Shlomi who takes care of everyone in his dysfunctional family from an ill grandfather to a quick-tempered mother. Amidst the chaos and attention on everyone but himself, a neglected Shlomi finally learns to find, love and believe in himself through an unexpected discovery of his talent in Math and of course, a passion and love for a girl.
Effortlessly charming and sweet, the film is a coming-of-age tale meant for every teenager, adolescent or even a young adult who can understand and embrace the importance of (re)discovering the Self before loving the Other. – Ronald Wan
Won Best Film Audience Award at the 2005 San Diego Jewish Film Festival and Best Director Award for FIPRESCI Prize.