Bina and Meir, an Orthodox couple from Jerusalem, arrive panic-stricken at the hospital after her son Oliel is severely injured in a terror attack. This is their first time seeing their son since he became secular and lost contact with the family. At the hospital, Bina and Meir meet Amal, a young Arab woman, who claims she is there to attend to her dying father. While Meir searches for answers to revive Oliel, the two despondent women bond with one another. As the truth unfolds, they all struggle to accept the unlikely circumstances that have brought them together.
Following the success of Arab Labor, Sayed Kashua returns with another autobiographical series. The Writer centers on Kashua’s fictional self, Kateb, who, after achieving runaway success with the television series Arab Labor, has become the poster boy for the New Age Arab-Israeli, able to shift seamlessly between two cultures. Rather than bask in the glory of his rarefied status in Israeli society, Kateb increasingly feels trapped in the gilded cage he has created for himself by living through his alter ego. The series offers an exploration of the hybrid Israeli-Palestinian existence and the personal and political toll it can take.
Sarah (Tali Sharon), a morose harpist in the Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra, is married to Abraham (Alon Aboutboul), the charismatic conductor of the group. They have no children. When Hagar, a young horn player from East Jerusalem, joins the Orchestra, Sarah’s world erupts. A unique friendship develops between the two women. Hagar, sympathizing with Sarah’s pain, offers to have a baby for Sarah. Ismail, born to Hagar and Abraham, is a wild and gifted pianist whom Sarah raises as her own. When Ismail discovers the true identity of his mother, his world–and that of those around him–falls apart. Harmonia maintains the essence of the biblical story from Genesis and adds a unique perspective, unearthing the metaphoric roots of the conflict.
Sand Storm (Special Presentation)
2016 | 87 minutes | Narrative
Director: Elite Zexer
As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles upon her daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university—a forbidden liaison that would shame the family, which Jalila tries to clamp down on and is met with resistance from Layla. Sand Storm is a story of tradition, modernity, and divided family that upends expectations. Elite Zexer’s directorial debut portrays the emotionally layered relationship between mother and daughter, both bound by custom while struggling to adapt to a changing world. Zexer’s artful storytelling derives its authenticity, complexity, rich detail, and subtle humor from the 10 years she spent interacting with Bedouin women.
In Lod, a poor town east of Tel Aviv where Arabs and Jews live side by side, Kareem spends his days wandering aimlessly between jobs. When a car accident kills his father, Kareem finds refuge in the world of hip-hop. At a concert, his girlfriend Manar’s lyrics incite an attack from Jewish rappers, and at home, the government threatens to tear down a friend’s house. Kareem and Manar decide to use their songs to fight both oppression and the violence that exists within their own conservative community. Kareem is played by Tamer Nafar, the charismatic frontman of DAM, the first Palestinian rap group. He and Israeli director Udi Aloni transform his personal experiences into the voice of a new generation, full of hope for equal rights and peaceful coexistence. In theaters February 2017.
Beitar Jerusalem F.C. is the most popular and controversial soccer team in Israel–the only club in the Israeli Premier League never to sign an Arab player. Midway through the 2013 season, a secretive transfer deal by the owner brought in two Muslim players from Chechnya. That deal inspired the most racist campaign in Israeli sports, sending the team spiraling out of control. A look at one season in the life of this famed team provides a window into Israeli society, personal identity, money, and power, showing how racism can destroy a team and society from within.
In this witty and modern family drama, a Palestinian family’s personal affairs unfold. In Nazareth, an aging couple lives wearily to the rhythm of the daily routine. On the other side of the border, in Ramallah, their son Tarek wishes to remain an eternal bachelor, their daughter is about to give birth, her husband lands a movie role, and their grandmother loses her head. Between checkpoints and dreams, frivolity and politics, some want to leave and others want to stay, but all have personal affairs to resolve. Official Selection, 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Followed by conversation and dessert reception with filmmakers and special guests.
Nazareth Cinema Lady
2015 | 52 minutes | Documentary
Director: Nurit Jacobs Yinon
The story of Safaa Dabour, a religious Muslim from Nazareth, struggling to take charge of her own fate and freedom and to establish the first and only Arab cinematheque in Israel. A single woman in a man’s world, Safaa travels to bring Arab box-office hits from Arab states, and seeks, against all odds, to create an island of culture for the society she belongs to. A cinematic profile of a courageous woman.
Four children who live in a village of military officers’ families form a gang, turning an abandoned army base into their camp. When another war begins in Israel and most men are drafted, the kids return to their camp in the wild. To their surprise, they discover two soldiers who deserted their units and are using their camp as a hideout. The children try to regain control over their stolen territory, but the soldiers hold their ground. A ruthless struggle develops between the two groups, and the soldiers, who once sought refuge from the war outside, now find themselves involved in another war, which turns out to be just as dangerous and bloody as the first.
David Greenbaum is discharged from the army after serving for 27 years, and tries to find himself in his new civilian life. His family seems at first to be in decent shape, but things unravel in dramatic ways as the Greenbaum family faces life-changing decisions. The film has been compared to an Israeli American Beauty, and explores the disturbed feelings of many Israelis who try to rationalize their sense of personal identity against the dysfunction of the state.
From our partners: Don’t miss the world premiere musical adaptation of The Band’s Visit, based on Eran Kolirin’s critically acclaimed screenplay that received 36 major international awards. Click here for more information.
2015 | 60 minutes | Documentary
Director: Katharina Waisburd
In Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo, Israelis and Palestinians work together to tend to the elephants, crocodiles, and rhinos. Tensions across animal species are reflected in the mostly good-natured but always edgy interactions between employees, who lead regular tours of schoolchildren through the zoo. Comprising Jewish and Muslim students, these tours are led separately, with each group learning different details about the same animals; hearing stories constructed to reflect the glories and struggles of the children’s distinct yet neighboring cultures. Katharina Waisburd discovers an extraordinary place in the heart of the Holy Land, daring to revive questions about freedom and hope in a desperate situation.
Screening followed by Q&A with the director and with Shai Doron, director of The Biblical Zoo. Moderated by Betty Herschman, Director of International Relations and Advocay, Ir Amim.
Nadia is a 20-year-old Arab woman having a secret love affair with Nimer, a PLO activist. They move to England, where Nimer is caught by the authorities, leaving Nadia on her own. A shady character provides her with a Jewish woman’s Israeli passport, allowing her to return to Israel. Twenty years later, Nadia is Maya, a successful choreographer married to Yoav, a Jewish official at the Ministry of Justice. When Nimer reappears in Jerusalem, Nadia’s past catches up with her, forcing her to deal with an identity crisis played out against the region’s political backdrop.
A comic mockumentary based on the book by Itay Meirson. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted 100 years. One hundred years of war, bloodshed, bitterness, and suffering. One hundred years of stalemate, intransigence, and failed peace deals. And now it’s all over. They’ve finally found the solution: a winner-take-all soccer match. The winner gets to stay. The loser leaves forever. And no whining.