Opening night is alight with stars: Elliott Gould, being presented with the 2009 IFF Lifetime Achievement Award; Paul Schrader with the 2009 IFF Achievement in Film Award; and Donald Krim , President of Kino International (a company name to delight any cinephile), with the 2009 IFF Visionary Award. TrustMovies, who is not particularly impressed with awards or celebrity, prefers to stick to the films themselves, and here, the festival looks promising indeed. The opening night feature is the Israeli box-office smash A Matter of Size, which has been nominated for 14 -- count 'em -- Ophirs (Israel's "Oscar") and also on the program is Schrader's very interesting Adam Resurrected, which received a small theatrical release in the U.S. last year and opened in Israel this year. It offers a view of the Holocaust and its aftermath that is, to put it mildly, unlike anything seen elsewhere, and I highly recommend it. (My earlier short review appears here: click and scroll down.)
|Better in every way is the splen-|
did narrative film FOR MY FATHER (that's its German poster at left; a still from the film is below), which was nominated for seven Israeli "Ophirs, while winning two international festival awards. A movie to which the cliche "a Romeo and Juliet story" most definitely applies, it is manipulative as all get-out, yet once its situation is in place, so deftly and realistically do the director (Dror Zahavi) and writers (Ido and Jonatan Dror) work everything out, and so beautifully performed is the film, that it simply takes off into the stratosphere, leaving you moved and chastened to an almost unbearable degree.
|Best of the three films I saw, hands down, is a documentary called THE SHAKSHUKA SYSTEM in which investigative reporter Miki Rosenthal and filmmaker Ilan Aboody lay bare an inordinate amount of detail about power, politics, money and corruption in Israel. This is an absolutely model documentary, one that a filmmaker such as Michael Moore could only observe with envy -- so rigorous and smart is it without a trace of the smart-ass and aren't-I-cuteness that Mr. Moore so often provides. Although, going into this film I had little knowledge of Israeli politics (other than that Mr. Netanyahu is back in power), I found I could follow each twist and turn quite easily. And there are plenty of these -- one more shocking and upsetting than the next. The film provoked a scandal and a lawsuit on its home turf and became the talk of the country. If you have an interest in Israel and/or documentary film-making, don't under any circumstance, miss this one. I'll have a lot more to say about it -- plus an interview with the filmmaker and the investigator -- tomorrow. The Shakshuka System (the poster is shown above) screens only twice during the festival: at the SVA Theater 2 Sunday night, December 6, at 10:15pm, and closing night, Sunday, December 13, at 7:15.|