Film festival offers a peek into Israeli culture

ENTP_IsraeliFilmFest_OutintheDark_0304 “Out in the Dark” will be screened at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.
Credit: Michael Mayer

Though they deal with a broad range of subjects, there is one central theme that runs throughout the films in this year’s Israeli Film Festival, according to festival chair Nurit Yaron.

“This year there’s a lot about complicated relationships,” Yaron says. “They all deal with ways of looking at relationships from different angles.”

Many of those relationships are familial: a trio of estranged siblings in the opening night film, “The World is Funny;” a documentary about filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger’s discovery of the friendship between his grandparents and a Nazi SS officer in “The Flat;” or a young woman pressured to marry her brother-in-law after her sister dies in childbirth in “Fill the Void,” which was selected as the Israeli entry for this year’s best foreign language Oscar.

Of course, the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians is a frequent subject for the festival, but the two films in this year’s 17th annual edition — “Out in the Dark” and “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” — are a refreshing change. “They’re more about people,” Yaron says, “not the problems or the military solution. I think they go to the next step of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.”

Three to see

“It’s very important for the festival to bring Israeli culture to Philadelphia,” says Yaron. This year’s festival showcases films exploring some unexpected aspects of that culture.

“Life in Stills” (March 9, Gratz College): Tamar Tal’s documentary spotlights the attempt to save Israel’s last photo shop by its owner and her grandson, Ben Wiessenstein, who will speak following the screening.

“Out in the Dark” (March 10, Bryn Mawr Film Institute) and “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” (March 13, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy): Two films about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from surprising angles: the love affair between two men on either side of the divide, and the penpal correspondence that grows between an Israeli victim of a bomb attack and the Palestinian who discovers her message in a bottle.

If you go

Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia
Screenings through March 17
484-904-5421
www.iffphila.com

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