23rd ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES ISRAEL’S 60th ANNIVERSARYWITH UNPRECEDENTED RETROSPECTIVELargest Showcase of Classic Israeli Movies Including All Seven Academy Award Nominated Films From IsraelTo Screen June 12 – 26, 2008 in Los Angeles
Submitted to: Film 
Posted: June 05 2008

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The 23rd annual Israel Film Festival, the largest exhibitor of Israeli films in the United States, will host an unparalleled Retrospective showing 29 treasured and award winning Israeli feature films and documentaries in Los Angeles from June 12th – June 26th to honor Israel’s 60th anniversary. These unforgettable movies include all seven Israeli titles nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

“Never before have so many memorable Israeli films been shown together in one grouping, allowing audiences to share the history of a film culture and its people,” announced Meir Fenigstein, the Founder/Executive Director of the Israel Film Festival. “This an incredible occasion for old and young generations alike to relive or discover gems of Israel’s cinematic history”.

The Retrospective will underscore the work of two gifted contributors to Israeli cinema. Mike Burstyn, who stars in the Retrospective film Two Kuni Lemel, has been one of Israel’s all-time popular stars. He is the winner of two Israeli "Oscars" for his screen portrayal of Kuni Lemel, a kind of Israeli Forrest Gump. The Israel Cinematheque saluted his achievements in the Israeli film industry by honoring him at a special ceremony in 1997. Over the past decades he has had several successful television shows, starred on Broadway and has been a recording artist for CBS Israel. Boaz Davidson, who directed the Retrospective films Shablul and the classic Lemon Popsicle, is one of the most prolific directors, producers and writers in both Hollywood and Israel. He also serves as Head of Production for Nu Image/Millennium Films.

The Israel Film Festival’s Retrospective films, along with the Festival’s other films, will screen at three locations: Laemmle’s Sunset 5 (Sunset Blvd. at Crescent Heights); Laemmle’s Royal Theatre (11523 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles); and Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 (5731 Fallbrook Avenue, San Fernando Valley). The films are in Hebrew with English subtitles.

To purchase tickets for screenings and events or for further information, please call 1-877-966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com. Tickets are available for advance purchase online and at theatre box offices beginning May 30th. Ticket prices are: $11.00 for general admission, $9.00 for senior citizens (62 and older), children (under 12) and students with proper ID. Weekday matinees (shows before 6:00 p.m.) are $8.00 for all filmgoers. A Festival Pass (buy five, get one free) is available for $55.00 (restrictions apply – vouchers must be exchanged at the box office a half-hour prior to showtime and are not available for sold-out screenings). Tickets for Opening Night Screening and Reception are $60.00. Tickets for Spotlight Premiere Screening are $18.00. Tickets for the Gala Awards Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel are $350.00/seat (to purchase Gala Awards Dinner tickets, please contact robin@lpaevents.com).

The FESTIVAL RETROSPECTIVE includes:

THE TRUE STORY OF PALESTINE, U.S. Premiere (1962, 80 minutes)

Director: Joel Silberg

The True Story of Palestine features the work of numerous Israeli-entertainment legends, with excerpts from hundreds of hours of film shot by Nathan Axelrod, a pioneer of Israeli cinema who documents the building of a Jewish state in Palestine. Joel Silberg and Uri Zohar shape this material into an 80-minute film, with Haim Hefer’s narration read by Haim Topol.

SALLAH, Academy Award-Nominee (1964, 110 minutes)

Director: Ephraim Kishon

Perhaps the most famous Israeli film of all time, this comedy was nominated for an Academy Award in 1963 and stars screen legend, Haim Topol, best known for his performance in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He portrays a lazy and shiftless soul named Sallah who moves his family into a Jewish settlement camp in 1949. Although Sallah’s money making schemes have made him unpopular among his hard-working neighbors, the hustler becomes a hero when he uncovers malfeasance in the housing industry. Sallah also won Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, and Best Screenplay and actor honors at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

TWO KUNI LEMEL (1966, 120 minutes)

Director: Israel Becker

Spotlight Screening

This delightful comedy was so popular in Israel it generated two sequels. Kalman is a matchmaker cursed with having a matchless daughter. To make matters worse, he’s hired by a rabbi to find a mate for his daughter, Carolina, who already has fallen for her French tutor, Max, whose middle-class status makes him an unacceptable suitor. So Kalman fixes up the rabbi’s daughter with Kuni, the village idiot who’s a dead ringer for Max. Clever Carolina will pretend to fall for the simpleton, but the best-laid plans go awry, causing delicious mayhem and some unforeseen, albeit, satisfying results.

BLAUMILCH CANAL/THE BIG DIG (1969, 87 minutes)

Director: Ephraim Kishon

In an outrageous satire from the director of Sallah and Ervinka that lampoons everyday life in Israel, an escaped lunatic steals construction equipment and digs a cavernous canal into a main street in Tel Aviv that’s soon flooded with sea water. His random excavations spark a chain reaction of pandemonium as misguided government agencies rush to assist and claim credit for the project. What’s more, he actually receives a hand from the city engineer, police force and other bureaucrats, while a city clerk who uncovers the truth is declared insane. This film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.

MATZOR (1969, 100 minutes)

Director: Tofano Gilberto

Italian director Gilberto Tofano was nominated for the 1969 Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Golden Palm Award for this portrayal of an Israeli widow named Tamar, whose husband was killed in combat during a raid years before the Six Day War in 1967. Tamar struggles with adjusting to the loss and swimming against the tide of a traditional culture that expects widows to mourn forever. When Tamar finds another man to share her life, she’s ready to put away her pain and move forward. But her husband’s buddies feel betrayed and want her to remain a grieving widow.

THE POLICEMAN, Academy Award-Nominee (1971, 87 minutes)

Director: Ephraim Kishon

The Policeman is considered a cinematic classic in Israel, having been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1972 and winning a Golden Globe in the same category. Renowned Israeli author and satirist Ephraim Kishon also earned kudos in the Best Foreign Film category at the Barcelona Film Festival and a best director nomination at the Monte Carlo Festival for his tale of Azulai, a kindly cop who befriends a notorious criminal named Amar. Unaware of his illegal activities, Azulai faces expulsion from the force, but his supportive associates do what they can to help keep his job.

SHABLUL (1971, 80 minutes)

Director: Boaz Davidson

Boaz Davidson makes his directorial debut with this light and entertaining semi-documentary that intersperses music with several hilarious skits celebrating the delightful fun and nonsense of the 1960s Israeli pop-rock scene. Shablul, which was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Israeli comedy, rocks the house with songs from a famous album by Arik Einstein and Shalom Hanoch. What results is a wonderful romp of a film in the vein of those done by another popular rock group; the Beatles, as Einstein and his creative team sing and clown their way to a delightful escape from reality.

I LOVE YOU ROSA, Academy Award-Nominee (1972, 77 minutes)

Director: Moshe Mizrahi

Nominated for the 1972 Cannes Film Festival’s Golden Palm Award, this classic film set in 1880s Jerusalem and based on the life of writer-director Moshe Mizrahi’s mother explores the provocative Jewish law that requires an unmarried man to marry his brother’s widow. After his brother dies, 11-year-old Nissim is willing to shoulder his responsibility and take Rosa as his wife. But newly single Rosa isn’t interested in child rearing or remarriage and sends the confused boy away. Nissim, whose story unfolds mostly through a flashback, returns to woo Rosa few years later with some surprising results. Mizrahi has been described as a “refreshingly professional craftsman.”

PEEPING TOMS (1972, 90 minutes)

Director: Uri Zohar

This Israeli cult-classic, was nominated for the 1973 Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Berlin Bear award, chronicles the life of Gutte, a middle-aged, hippie lifeguard who serves Tel Aviv beachgoers with chairs, beverages and boats from his beach shack. Gutte also chases off kids trying to catch a peep of the ladies doffing their clothes in the changing room, but he fails to see the hypocrisy of lending the shack to his best friend, Eli, for seaside assignations and spies on these sexual encounters. Gutte must decide to push ahead or stay behind as the rest of the world moves on.

BEN GURION REMEMBERS, U.S. Premiere (1973, 85 minutes)

Spotlight Screening

Director: Simon Hasera

Coinciding with Israeli’s 25th anniversary and the Yom Kippur War, this a warm and personal portrait of a man not known for his congeniality pays tribute to David Ben-Gurion, an ardent Zionist who played an instrumental role in the Jewish state’s creation and was its first prime minister. The film, directed by Simon Hesers, includes interviews with Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Abba Eban and Moshe Dayan, as well as footage showing Ben-Gurion with U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman, and French leader Charles de Gaulle. The film’s original poster: “…How a 5000-year-old promise from God became a 25-year-old nation.”

KAZABLAN (1973, 122 minutes)

Director: Menahem Golan

Playing out like an Israeli West Side Story, this film nabbed two nominations at the 1974 Golden Globes stars Yossi Graber, Yehoram Gaon and Arieh Elia. It follows Kazablan, a young veteran of Israel’s War of Independence whose immigrant status invites discrimination. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks courts a beautiful Ashkenazi girl named is in love with Rachel, but when he’s accused of stealing money meant to protect the residents’ homes from destruction by the city, Kazablan must exonerate himself. An exceptional cast of Israeli actors sings and dances to a solution that straddles and celebrates both worlds.

THE HOUSE ON CHELOUCHE STREET, Academy Award-Nominee (1973, 110 minutes)

Director: Moshe Mizrahi

Egyptian-born director Moshe Mizrahi paints an intensely personal portrait of family and community in the face of a national struggle for independence in this Academy Award nominated best foreign language film in 1974. When Mizrahi was 15 years old, he emigrated to a kibbutz during the turbulent final days of British rule in Palestine – a path followed by his teenage protagonist, Sami, whose poor Sephardic family’s life in a Tel Aviv slum is shown within a larger context in Mizrahi’s adopted homeland. The House on Chelouche Street stars several Israeli luminaries, including actress-director Michal Bat-Adam, Gila Almagor and Chaim Banai.

HALFON HILL DOESN'T ANSWER (1976, 92 minutes)

Director: Assi Dayan

Assi Dayan brings us this comedic take on Israeli military mischief through the eyes of three Army reservists in the Sinai desert who do everything short of performing their actual duties. The popular comedy trio HaGashash HaHiver (Yeshayahu Levi, Yisrael Poliakov and Gavriel Bana) try holding their personal and romantic lives together, which makes it all the more stressful for their sergeant, who’s preparing for a visit from the regional commander. But the men are finally forced to step up when one of their members falls into the hands of an equally dysfunctional Egyptian border.

OPERATION THUNDERBOLT, Academy Award-Nominee (1977, 124 minutes)

Director: Menahem Golan

One of the most extraordinary acts of Israeli heroism beyond the Jewish state’s boundaries is captured in a gripping drama that was nominated as best foreign language film at the 1978 Academy Awards. Based on the harrowing true events of July 1976, Operation Thunderbolt follows an elite commando unit’s stunning raid to rescue Jewish passengers taken hostage when an Air France flight departing from Tel-Aviv was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. After much debate, the Israeli government decided in dramatic fashion not to negotiate with the hijackers, who demanded the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

LEMON POPSICLE (1978, 95 minutes)

Director: Boaz Davidson

Spotlight Screening

Lemon Popsicle, which takes place in Tel Aviv in the late 1950s, follows three sex-starved teenagers with a one-track mind whose hilarious exploits play out along to a dynamic rock ’n roll soundtrack. The lovable cast of characters includes Momo (a ladies man), Benz (the shy, sensitive type) and Yudaleh (the mischievous fat boy). Benji flips for a school girl named Nili, who ends up getting impregnated by Bobby, who then asks Benji to arrange for an abortion. The film is considered a predecessor of the raunchy teen-sex comedy genre of such American classics as the Porky’s and American Pie series.

THE TROUPE (1979, 112 minutes)

Director: Avi Nesher

With its blend of music and comedy, The Troupe was a huge success in Israel upon its 1979 release. The story follows a dozen young men and women who perform in an elite Israeli Army entertainment troupe after the Six Day War. Their mission: Brave various combat zones to help boost soldier morale, dodge bullets and perform song-and-dance numbers. But the real drama comes from romance, petty jealousy, bickering and practical jokes that threaten to destroy the company. Picture A Chorus Line in army fatigues and boots, and you get the idea of the wacky fun of this entertaining film.

BEYOND THE WALLS, Academy Award-Nominee (1984, 118 minutes)

Director: Uri Barbash

Beyond the Walls is a gripping film that chronicles an unusual friendship between two prisoners, a Palestinian Arab and an Israeli Jew who manage to set aside political and cultural differences and unite their respective groups in a revolt against manipulative prison authorities. Uri Barbash’s powerful drama, the first feature film screened before the Knesset, works both as a brutal, compelling prison story and allegorical tale about the power of cooperation between Arabs and Jews in the face of dehumanization. In order to survive, the prisoners are forced to trust each other and unite against a common enemy.

THE SUMMER OF AVIYA (1988, 95 minutes)

Director: Eli Cohen

Based on acclaimed Israeli actress Gila Almagor’s autobiographical novel and winner of the 1989 Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear Award, this moving drama examines the life of Aviya, the 10-year-old daughter of a Holocaust survivor, during Israel’s early years. Her mother, an ex-partisan fighter who walks a fine line between sanity and madness, one day she shaves the girl’s head “to rid her of fleas.” Aviya struggles with torment from her peers and discrimination from an insensitive dance instructor, fighting desperately to maintain whatever threads of innocence she might still retain in the face of her mother’s deteriorating condition.

TIME FOR CHERRIES (1991, 90 minutes)

Director: Haim Bouzaglo

This powerful drama, winner of three Israeli Film Academy awards, traces the life of Miki, a handsome and flirtatious copywriter without much concern beyond his immediate sphere who’s part of an army reserve unit. His indulgent lifestyle is interrupted when he’s called to active duty in Lebanon where an army gravesite with pre-dug holes for expected casualties shakes him up. An American journalist covering the conflict becomes smitten with Miki’s good looks and decides to feature him in her stories. Together, they confront their mortality and ponder the greater meaning of existence brought into focus by the brutal realities of war.

LIFE ACCORDING TO AGFA (1992, 100 minutes)

Director: Assi Dayan

Director Assi Dayan’s portrayal of a self-destructive Israeli society shocked audiences when it was first released, earning six Israeli Film Academy awards, as well as a special mention at the Berlin International Film Festival and Golden Berlin Bear nomination. Most of the film takes place in a fictitious Tel Aviv pub run by Dalia and Leora called Barbie, a satirical nickname for a famous Israeli mental health institution with a motley crew of patrons and staffers. Life According to Agfa ultimately is a tragic tale that takes an honest and poignant look at people trying to do what’s right, but ultimately succumbing to temptation.

ZOHAR (1993, 116 minutes)

Director: Eran Riklis

This film chronicles the meteoric rise and tragic fall of legendary singer Zohar Argov, whose wild popularity was unprecedented in Israeli music. Despite fame and fortune, he remained a lonely man, complex, fascinating, full of contradictions and self-destruction. In the 1980s, Argov became a symbol of the clash between East and West and attempt of Mediterranean culture to maintain its unique identity in the face of assimilation. His fate was all-too-familiar: sex, drugs, rock ’n roll hastened his premature and senseless death in 1987. Zohar’s exuberant personality, charged with mystery and tragedy, will keep moviegoers on the edge of their seats.

KADOSH (1999, 110 minutes)

Director: Amos Gitai

As the year 2000 approaches in Jerusalem’s Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter, women clean house and bear children so their husbands can study Torah and Talmud. Rivka is happily married to Meir, but they remain childless. Meir’s father, the yeshiva’s rabbi, wants his son to divorce because in his view “a barren woman is no woman.” Meanwhile, Rivka’s sister, Malka, is betrothed to Yossef, an unappealing and pious man, but she’s in love with Yakov, a secular charmer shunned by the community. Forced to confront their beliefs and identify, Rivka and Malka mull the constricting and impractical tenets of their faith.

YANA'S FRIENDS (1999, 90 minutes)

Director: Arik Kaplun

Winner of 10 Israeli Film Academy awards, Yana’s Friends takes place during the Gulf War. Its namesake is a beautiful and pregnant Russian woman who arrives in Israel with her husband, who decides to use their immigration money to fly back to Russia to seek his fortune and then return. Yana’s filmmaker neighbor, Eli, becomes fascinated by the circumstances, making her the subject of his next project. Beneath his cinematic veneer lies a professional voyeur with a passion for casual sex. When the threat of Saddam Hussein’s poisonous gas missiles force them into the same sealed bedrooms, she confronts a different kind of tension.

TIME OF FAVOR (2000, 102 minutes)

Director: Joseph Cedar

In a West Bank settlement, Menahem (Aki Avni) is a stoic soldier in the Israeli Defense Force who gets his own Orthodox unit because of the influence of Rabbi Meltzer (Assi Dayan). Though the rabbi wants his daughter, Michal, to wed his star student, Pini, she prefers the handsome Menahem. The love triangle is further complicated by the fact that Menahem is implicated in a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock, a mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In this moving romantic drama, which won five Israeli Film Academy awards, personal allegiances are tested against politics.

BROKEN WINGS (2002, 84 minutes)

Director: Nir Bergman

Broken Wings, winner of nine Israeli Film Academy awards and the 2002 Tokyo International Film Festival’s Grand Prix award, examines the impact of a family patriarch’s unexpected death. When newly widowed Dafna returns to work at a maternity hospital, she has little time for her children. Eldest son, Yair, drops out of school while his twin sister, Maya, must step up as family caregiver at the expense of her musical career. Meanwhile, younger son, Ido, who’s bullied at school, films himself attempting dangerous feats, and baby sister, Bar, gets lost in the shuffle. A tragic accident eventually brings this dysfunctional family back together.

BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI (2003, 94 minutes)

Director: Shemi Zarhin

Shlomi cares for his grandfather and listens to tall tales from World War II. He also reminds a macho older brother to take his medication and mediates between his quick-tempered mother and unfaithful father, as well as his older sister and her husband, who can’t tell the difference between their identical babies. One day, a routine math test convinces Shlomi’s teacher and school principal that hidden inside their student is a truly unique and gifted personality. With their help, and some encouragement from Rona, an alluring gardener who moved next door, the neglected boy discovers himself and the power of love.

JAMES’ JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM (2003, 90 minutes)

Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz

In this award-winning offbeat satire filled with biting social commentary, a Christian African tribe sends an innocent young man on a spiritual journey to Jerusalem. Naďve James, unschooled in Middle East politics, is baffled when he’s arrested for illegal immigration and thrown in a detention cell. His fervent prayers are answered when divine intervention sends Mr. Shimi to bail him out. Little does James know that he will repay Shimi’s generosity by becoming part of his cheap labor pool. Though James resists, he’s soon seduced by the sins of capitalism. As he prospers, his original holy destination recedes to oblivion.

TURN LEFT AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2004, 110 minutes)

Director: Avi Nesher

This charming comic drama features two Jewish immigrant families in the 1960s—one Indian, the other Moroccan—who become unlikely neighbors in the Israeli desert where their prejudices inevitably collide. In a nutshell, Indians feel superior to the boisterous Moroccans, who look down on the Indians for their reserved ways and having dark skin. Against this backdrop, the adults wage cultural warfare and get embroiled in a labor dispute with the region’s sole employer. Meanwhile, their teenage daughters discover their budding sexuality and desire for freedom. In this isolated place, the road to harmony twists joyfully with many surprises.

USHPIZIN (2004, 90 minutes)

Director: Giddi Dar

This heartwarming and humorous drama directed by Giddi Dar offers a sympathetic portrayal into the lives of Moshe and Mali, a childless couple married nearly five years who are broke and praying for a miracle. When two suspicious strangers appear on their doorstep during Succoth in time to be their ushpizin or guests, they wonder if accepting them with open arms is part of a divine test that will answer their prayers. But the guests’ outrageous behavior makes their visit truly a test of faith. This groundbreaking depiction of life among Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population resulted from the first film collaboration between Israel’s religious and secular communities.

WALK ON WATER (2004, 104 minutes)

Director: Eitan Fox

Walk on Water, from director Eitan Fox, has been described as both a buddy-coming-of-age-espionage-thriller and tale of revenge, guilt and redemption. A Mossad agent (Lior Ashkenazi) pretends to be the tour guide of a gay German tourist (Knut Berger) in hopes of finding his Nazi grandfather. Elements of Judaism, Christianity and Islam find their way into the film’s message of forgiveness, compassion and becoming a better person to a point where one can metaphorically walk on water. Filmmaker Fox cites Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola as his chief creative influences and sources of inspiration.

Under the expert supervision of Founder/Executive Director Meir Fenigstein, The Israel Film Festival is presented by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) created in 1982, in association with the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. The Festival, celebrating its 23rd year, is the second oldest film festival in Southern California, and the only film festival that will visit three American cities-- Los Angeles, New York and Miami. Dates of the Festivals: Los Angeles, June 11 - 26; New York, November 5 - 20; Miami; and December 10 – 18, 2008. The Festival has been responsible for introducing Israeli life and culture to American audiences through the powerful medium of film, providing a comprehensive intercultural exchange and has brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the United States to share their art. Through the years, more than 750,000 filmgoers have experienced the best of Israeli cinema by showcasing more than 700 feature films, documentaries, television dramas, short films and student shorts.

This year’s Sponsors include 94.7 The Wave, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, The Ant Farm, Bank Leumi USA, Beverly Hills Courier, Caesarea Golf Club, Carmel Car Service, Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., Mika Drimer, EL AL Israel Airlines, Four Seasons Hotel – Beverly Hills, International Creative Management, Israel Film Fund, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, The Jewish Journal, KGIL, Laemmle Theatres, Maurice Marciano Family Foundation, Modern VideoFilm, New Regency Productions, Nu Image / Millennium Films, Panavision, Paramount Pictures, The Saban Family Foundation, The Schecter Foundation, Security Couriers, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Cable, Variety and We Are in America, among others.

***

Press Contacts:

Steven Zeller/Todd Zeller

GS Entertainment Marketing Group

323/860-0270

stevenzeller@gsemg.com

toddzeller@gsemg.com

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