Premiers – New Israeli Cinema

This year the Israeli cinema fountain of creation continues to abounds with unforgettable cinematic moments. The film creators embody the peak of Israeli creation born of the wounds of the reality that shake the country, while they also touch universal human truths. The first line of Israeli cinematic creation combines more experienced directors continuing their path, alongside young creators who are crystallizing their identity, bringing additional perspectives to the experience of life in general, and life in Israel, in particular. The films debuting this year show unforgettable characters, which bring their stories candidly, filled with intensity and pain, sometimes even brutally.

The opening film of the 2016 Cinema South Film Festival is “Avinu” by director Meni Yaesh. After opening the 2012 festival with his award-winning film “Hamashgihim”, Yaesh returns with a no less significant and powerful film. “Avinu” is a spectacular action film, centered on the mythological character of Ovadiah Rahamim (Morris Cohen) who is a security man at “Shamayim”, an oriental song club. Rahamim is torn between his desire to be a father and his loyalty to his friends. In the film, Meni Yaesh plays between the various layers of meaning, presenting a film that is totally Israeli, entirely action, and embedded with profound questions regarding faith and belonging.

The closing film of the festival is Eran Kolirin’s “Me’ever Laharim Vehageva’ot”, coming to us directly from the prestigious program “Un Certain Regard” at the Cannes Festival. Kolirin’s sensitivity reminds us of his previous films (Bikur Hatizmoret; Hahithalfut) as he tells of a family caught in a deep crisis in the impossible reality in Israel.

This year the program of Israeli cinema’s debut screenings include the first film of Yaniv Berman – “Medinat Hagamadim”. At the center of the film is a group of children who set up a secret camp in an abandoned army base. When a war breaks out, the fathers are sent to the front, and the mothers are glued to the news. The kids find themselves with little supervision and are absorbed into a reality in which it isn’t clear who hunts and who is hunted. Berman sketches a most troubling social portrait that raises questions and doubts, and isn’t afraid to touch sensitive places.

“Behadrei Habayit”, by Eitan Green – director, scriptwriter and cinema researcher – tells the story of Avraham, a Jerusalem building constructor who decides to do something to get ahead in life. He takes large jobs and even moves his family – wife and sons – to a grander home. This home is his pride and joy. The financial risk, however, turns into a disaster. Avraham has no chance in the economic reality.

The first full-length film of Erez Mizrahi and Sahar Shavit is “Halumim”. The film deals with the collapse of a small family, following the father’s condition of post traumatic stress disorder. Menasheh, the father, understands that he’ll never be the person he was before the war. This is a historical period film taking place in the months before the Yom Kippur War, thus returning to the collective Israeli trauma, and raising questions that are equally pertinent nowadays.