The 4th Annual Other Israel Film Festival will take place from November 11th – November 21st. Since its establishment, The Other Israel Film Festival showcases the diversity of Israeli life with award-winning films and open discussions on the margins of Israeli society that is rarely seen by the mainstream, let alone presented to American audiences. Among those are the country’s Arab population (Christian, Muslim, Bedouin and Druze) that makes up 20% of Israel’s population, as well as migrant workers, immigrants and more.
The Other Israel “SPEAKEASY CAFÉ” opens its doors this year for non-stop intimate conversations and in-depth discussions with filmmakers, scholars and experts. The café is located in the heart of the festival at the JCC on Manhattan’s upper west side. Highlights will include conversations with Naomi Ragen, Benny Morris, Debra Winger, Sayed Kashua, Mira Awad, Mohammad Bakri, Uri Rosenwaks, Sofi Tzdaka, Clara Khoury and more.
The festival kicks off with a special Opening Night Gala, the US Premiere screening of THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY following the Jewish-Arab duo: NOA, a world-renowned Jewish-Israeli singer, and Arab singer Mira Awad, on their journey to represent Israel at the European song competition, following the military operation in Gaza and despite resistance from left and right.
Closing the festival will be a special screening of PRECIOUS LIFE, a favorite at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Born without an immune system, four-month-old Palestinian Mohammad will die without a bone marrow transplant, a procedure that can only be done in an Israeli hospital. A desperate plea from his doctor leads Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar to document this complex and emotional story, as Israeli and Palestinians put aside their differences to save Mohammad’s life.
Other special events and highlights of this year’s festival include a concert by renowned Israeli-Palestinian singer / songwriter Mira Awad and Jewish Israeli composer, Tamar Muskal; a New Generations friday night Shabbat dinner with notable festival guests; a comprehensive exhibit of classic and modern Israeli movie posters; and a screening of selections from “RECHOV SUMSUM,” the Israeli incarnation of “SESAME STREET.” The Brooklyn Palestinian Spotlight takes place from November 19-21 showcasing exciting new voices from award winning up and coming Palestinian filmmakers.
“The films that we screen at the festival are meant to evoke discussion, and the Speakeasy Café will be home to exciting non-stop dialogue,” said Carole Zabar, founder of the festival. “In a time of increasing Islamophobia, our festival bridges gaps and promote tolerance.”
“This year the festival offers such a wide variety of options for our audience in terms of high profile screenings, special events and spotlights,” said Isaac Zablocki, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the festival.
The 4th Annual Other Israel Film Festival is proud to screen the following
ADAMA (LAND) – US Premiere
Two episodes from the newest hit on Israeli TV, starring Mohammad Bakri as the head of a Jewish family of farmers in a financial crisis, struggling to keep their land in the south of Israel. Q&A to follow with director Rani Bleier and Mohammad Bakri
AJAMI – Special Director’s Presentation
Last year’s Israel’s runner for the Oscars returns to Other Israel with a special presentation by the director discussing his work on this powerful crime drama, portraying the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami Neighborhood. Q&A to follow with director Yaron Shani
ARAB LABOR – Season 2 – NY Premiere
A wittier, edgier second season of Sayed Kashua’s TV satire, directed by Shai Capon, follows Amjed as he tries to be part of Jewish Israeli society, in this season moves his family to a Jewish neighborhood, where he continues to be mocked by his family and both Arab and Jewish societies. Q&A to follow with Creator Sayed Kashua and Producer Danny Paran
BACK AND FORTH – US Premiere
Four promising Bedouin directors from the Negev desert turn the camera on themselves and their society to record a self-portrait of their community and its turmoil. Conversation to follow between Naomi Ragen and Director Uri Rosenwaks.
BLOOD RELATION – US Premiere
Director Noa Ben Hagai’s surprising quest to reveal the story and reconnect with a Palestinian part of her family, formed when her grandmother’s sister disappeared at the age of 14, later to be found married to an Arab man. Q&A to follow with Director Noa Ben Hagai
COFFEE – BETWEEN REALITY AND IMAGINATION — US Premiere
Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers embark on a journey to create short films
inspired by coffee, being part of our cultural identity and social reality. Q&A to follow with Actor Mohammad Bakri.
ID BLUES – JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC — NY Premiere
The final and most controversial part in director Haim Yavin’s travelogue, examining different aspects of daily lives and struggles facing Arab citizens in Israeli society. Speakeasy Café discussion to follow with historian Benny Morris
I’M NOT FILIPINA – NY Premiere
A six-year-old blind girl of Filipino origin who was born in Israel is adopted by a loving Filipino worker. Together they try to bridge the gaps of language and mentality in a country in which one of them regards as her homeland and the other still feels like a stranger. Q&A to follow with director Anat Tel
Amal High School in Lod is the last opportunity for students who failed other educational frameworks to complete their high school education. Director Orna Raviv follows three students’ stories through the eyes of the school’s principal, who is determined that his students will succeed against all odds. Q&A to follow with director Orna Raviv
LONE SAMARITAN – NY Premiere
The tiny sect of Samaritans date back to the first temple in Israel and are constantly in danger of extinction. The Samaritans hold their traditions sacred, and do not assimilate. Director Barak Heymann follows TV star Sofi Tzdaka and her three sisters, when after they leave this closed community, the family becomes subject to terrible harassment by sect members. Q&A to follow with Sofi Tzdaka.
THE OFFICE (HA’MISRAD) – US Premiere
In Director Eitan Zur’s Israeli adaptation of the world famous comedy created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, The Office is a microcosm of Israeli society, where an orthodox woman, Arab man, Russian immigrant, and gay man work under one roof with a useless, non-pc boss. Speakeasy Café panel discussion to follow.
THE WEEKLY PORTION (PARASHAT HA’SHAVUA) – US Premiere
This hit TV show, directed by Rani Bleier, follows the drama of four families from different social and economic backgrounds in Israeli society. Love, hate, friendships and secrets mix together when the families connect. Q&A to follw with Director Rani Bleier
WORLD CLASS KIDS – NY Premiere
Director Netta Loevy’s look at second graders from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, in the center of Tel Aviv, contend with a stormy school year, of war and nationalistic curriculum. With poignant intuition, the children point out basic conflicts in Israeli society, deal with painful identity issues, and experience the first cracks in their childhood innocence. Q&A to follow with Edna Kowarsky.
CROSSOVER – MIRA AWAD & TAMAR MUSKAL
Renowned Israeli-Palestinian singer / songwriter Mira Awad meets Jewish Israeli composer, Tamar Muskal, to bring a collage of compositions. Songs from the album “Bahlawan/Acrobat” by Mira Awad with music from “The Yellow Wind” by Tamar Muskal, as well as new material debuting at this concert. (Sunday, Nov 14th at 7:30pm)
GROWING UP AT THE MOVIES: Israeli Cinema 1930s-2000s
A comprehensive display of classic and modern Israeli movie posters from the early days of emerging Israeli cinema, through the growth of the 1970’s, until the boom of the last decade. Other Israel themed posters are highlighted throughout the exhibit, providing a fascinating review of Israeli society and culture as portrayed in films throughout the years. (On display November 4 – January 27 at The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery at the JCC)
NEW GENERATIONS FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER WITH FESTIVAL GUESTS
Join the New Israel Fund’s New Generations and other young leadership groups for a Shabbat dinner and discussion with notable festival guests. Arrive earlier for a pre-dinner glass of wine and view of the exciting Israeli movie poster exhibit, Growing Up at The Movies: Israeli Cinema 1930s-2000s. (Fri. Nov. 12, 6:30pm pre exhibit gathering / 7:00pm Dinner)
Selections from Rechov Sumsum, the Israeli incarnation of Sesame Street, focusing on building tolerance and understanding between diverse communities in Israel (Saturday, Nov 13 at 2:30pm)
BROOKLYN PALESTINIAN SPOTLIGHT
A special showcase of exciting new voices from award winning and up and coming
Palestinian filmmakers. Screenings include:
A special presentation of the 2009 Academy Award ® Nominee for best foreign language film, this powerful crime drama from directors Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti, portrays the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami Neighborhood. Q&A to follow with the directors.
COFFEE – BETWEEN REALITY AND IMAGINATION
Eleven Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers embark on a journey to create short films inspired by coffee – how it’s part of our cultural identity and social reality. Q&A to follow with actor Mohammad Bakri
Director Rashid Masharawi’s comically existential fable about a day in the life of a former-judge-turned-taxi driver, on the day of his daughter Laila’s seventh birthday. His only goal is to be home early with a present and a cake, but life takes him through many twists and turns before he gets home. Q&A to follow with actor Mohammad Bakri
DIRECTOR: Mohammad Bakri / Israel / 2009 / 60 minutes
With touching personal style and breathtaking cinematography, Director Mohammad Bakri tells the story of his 78 year old aunt Zahara, from the times of pre-state Palestine to present, leading the family with love and wisdom through the many trials of life. Q&A to follow with director Mohammad Bakri
SPEAKEASY CAFÉ DISCUSSIONS
ISRAELI TV TODAY
Panel on Israeli’s thriving industry that is making waves across the globe. Participants include top producer, director and writer Danny Paran, Rani Bleier and Uzi Weil.
DIVERSITY ON THE SMALL SCREEN
A conversation with the creators of “Parashat Hashavua” (The Weekly Portion), “HaMisrad” (The Office) and “Arab Labor” – Rani Bleier and Clara Khoury with Uzi Weill, Danny Paran and Sayed Kashua.
DIVERSITY IN THE ISRAELI EDUCATION SYSTEM
Panel discussion with Maura Mills, US Representative of HAND IN HAND; Michael Greenberg, Director of Development, The Abraham Fund Initiatives; and Edna Kowarsky, producer of “World Class Kids”.
DEMOCRATIC & JEWISH
Israeli News Correspondent Aharon Barnea in conversation with Historian Benny morris, following the screening of the final episode in Haim Yavin’s travelogue “ID BLUES”
Actress Debra Winger in conversation with writer and columnist Sayed Kashua and Danny Paran, Creator and Producer of “ARAB LABOR”
Coffee tasting with expert Saul Zabar. The discussion will be an introduction to “Coffee: Between Fiction and Reality — the use of coffee as a cultural unifier. The discussion will conclude with a Q&A with actor Mohammad Bakri, following the screening of COFFEE – BETWEEN REALITY AND IMAGINATION
Q&A with director Rani Bleier and actor Mohammad Bakri to follow the screening of ADAMA (LAND)
Discussion with director Anat Tel (“I am Not Filipina”) and local advocates on the plight of migrant workers
A CONVERSATION WITH….
A conversation with Sofi Tzdaka, protagonist of the film LONE SAMARITAN
A conversation with Orna Raviv, Director of the film LOD DETOUR
A conversation with Edna Kowarsky, producer of BLOOD RELATION and WORLD CLASS KIDS
A conversation with Uri Rosenwaks, director of BACK AND FORTH
A conversation with Yaron Shani, Oscar nominated co-director to follow a screening of AJAMI
A conversation with Uzi Weil, writer of the Israeli version of the hit television show THE OFFICE.