Tomorrow, Thursday, July 7, sees the start of the 33rd Jerusalem Film Festival, which will present more than 100 new feature films before its closing night on Sunday, July 17. With more than 40 documentaries, the festival demonstrates an increase from last year’s nonfiction numbers, though still fewer than it has shown in past editions. The following offers some highlights, focused primarily on new Israeli offerings:
This year’s Documentary Competition once again presents seven titles: Michael Alalu’s PEPE’S LAST BATTLE (pictured), which follows the director’s secular father in his longshot Jerusalem mayoral run; Yariv Mozar’s BEN-GURION, EPILOGUE, constructed from a long-lost interview conducted with the Israeli pioneer late in his life; Michal Aviad’s DIMONA TWIST, about the experiences of women who immigrated to a small Israeli desert community in the 1950s and ’60s; Maya Zinshtein’s FOREVER PURE, which chronicles the racist backlash that followed the inclusion of Muslim players on a Jerusalem soccer team; Kobi Faraj’s PHOTO FARAJ, a personal excavation of the director’s family’s photography business; Yonatan Nir’s MY HERO BROTHER, about a group of Down syndrome youth trekking through the Himalayas with their siblings; and Era Lapid and Haim Lapid’s KINDERGARTEN, which re-examines an accusation of abuse against a schoolteacher.
Among the Israeli work appearing outside of competition are Maayan Schwartz’s MY FRIEND, YANIV, about a man who longs to finally find his independence; and Neta Shoshani and David Ofek’s HOUSE CALL (pictured), an intimate look at home hospice care for the terminally ill. Additional newer, non-Israeli, titles appearing at the festival and focused on Middle Eastern concerns include Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young’s DISTURBING THE PEACE, on former enemies turned peacemakers; and David Schisgall’s THEO WHO LIVED, about an American journalist kidnapped and later freed by Al-Qaeda forces in Syria.