With a handful of titles in various sections, including Hadas Ben Aroya in Panorama and Avi Mograbi in Forum, Israeli filmmakers are present both at the Berlinale and in the EFM

The presence of films from Israel is very noticeable this year in both the selection of the 71st Berlinale and the accompanying European Film Market (EFM, 1-5 March). One movie is selected in Panorama, there is one minority co-production in Forum, a total of 12 titles are featured as market screenings, with two premieres among them, and one project has been chosen for the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

All Eyes Off Me, the sophomore outing by Hadas Ben Aroya (People That Are Not Me), will have its premiere in Panorama. Narrated in three loosely connected chapters, the film follows the stories of a young and confident generation. Danny (Hadar Katz) is pregnant by Max (Leib Lev Levin), but she doesn’t tell him. Max is exploring his girlfriend Avishag’s (Elisheva Weil) fantasies – she wants him to hit her during sex, and she later shows the bruises to Dror (Yoav Hait), whom she dog-sits for. The film was written by the director, and was co-produced by Hadas Ben Aroya and Maayan Eden. Brussels-based Best Friend Forever is handling the movie internationally.

In the 51st Berlinale Forum, the documentary The First 54 Years – An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation by experienced filmmaker Avi Mograbi (Between Fences ) will have its world premiere. The director, also serving as the narrator, pieces together the handbook for the perfect occupier, based on testimonies from Israeli soldiers and archive footage. Five million Palestinians live in the occupied territories under Israeli military rule, 2 million of them in the Gaza Strip, which has been under total siege for the past several years. The documentary is a French-Finnish-Israeli-German co-production by Arte, Les Films d’Ici, 24 Images, Citizen Jane Productions, Avi Mograbi and Ma.ja.de Productions, with French agency The Party Film Sales handling the sales.

Furthermore, two Israeli co-productions will enjoy their market premieres during the EFM. Shake Your Cares Away, the sophomore feature by Tom Shoval (Youth ), is a drama about Alma, the widow of a rich man, who, after meeting homeless woman Marina, decides to transform her extravagant villa into a home for refugees in an act of philanthropy. Executive-produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the film is a co-production by One Two Films, Green Productions and New People Film Company, and Wild Bunch is dealing with the sales. The other premiere is Plan A, written and directed by Doron Paz and Yoav Paz (JeruZalem), which is set in 1945 and is based on the true story of a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors who planned to poison the water supply network in Germany. It was produced by Getaway Pictures (Germany) together with UCM Film (Israel) and Jooyaa Filmproduktion Berlin.

The rest of the EFM market screenings include The Death of Cinema and My Father Too by Dani Rosenberg (France/Israel) and Here We Are by Nir Bergman (Israel/Italy), which were both selected for Cannes, and Abu Omar by Roy Krispel (Israel/France), which premiered at Tokyo last year. Also, nine documentaries round off the market screenings selection: Children by Ada Ushpiz (Israel), The Human Factor  by Dror Moreh (USA/Israel), Leaving Paradise by Ofer Freiman (Israel), Love It Was Not  by Maya Sarfaty (Israel/Austria), The Motive by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudri (Israel), Muranow by Chen Shelach (Israel), Murder at Cinema North by Avida Livny (Israel), There Is No Other Place by Anat Tel (Israel) and Tuning by Ilan Yagoda (Israel).

Finally, Elite Zexer (Sand Storm ) is presenting her upcoming project, Two Peas in a Pod, as part of the Berlinale Co-Production Market’s Berlinale Directors section, and three Israelis – production designer and art director Avigail Gutfeld, editor Alex Khosid and writer-director Assaf Machnes – are representing the country as some of the Berlinale Talents.

published on cineuropa
Writen by Vassilis Economou