November 18, 2019

Israel Film Festival Los Angeles Highlights

Now in its 33rd year, the Israel Film Festival (IFF) will bring a diverse mix of 30 features, documentaries, short films and TV series to Los Angeles.

The festival kicks off with an opening night gala at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on Nov. 12 with the American premiere of “Incitement” and will honor producers Arthur Cohn and Sharon Harel-Cohen. Screenings will be held at the Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts and Town Center 5 theaters over a two-week period ending Nov. 26. More than two-dozen filmmakers and stars will attend the gala and screenings of their films, and participate in Q&A sessions afterward.

IFF director Meir Fenigstein gave the Journal a preview. “The feature films are very personal stories, a very wide range of stories about babies, teachers, old people, love stories, crime, spies,” he said. “We have the most political films ever this year, about figures like Bibi Netanyahu, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan who shaped Israel. It’s a real education in Israeli history. If people want to find out what Israel is today, the festival is the perfect place to come and see and learn.”

The documentary lineup is particularly strong this year, with “Golda,” the Netanyahu film “King Bibi,” the Holocaust story “You Only Die Twice” (sponsored by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust), “Shai K,” about the late Israeli entertainer Shaike Ophir and “Picture of His Life,” about a nature photographer’s efforts to swim with a polar bear and capture it on film. “Ma’Abarot,” about immigrant transit camps in Israel, is the centerpiece selection, sponsored by the Jewish National Fund. 

On the narrative side, the selections include many film festival and Ophir award winners: “Synonyms,” about an Israeli in Paris; “Love Trilogy: Chained,” about a cop accused of a crime; and “God of the Piano,” about a musician who is devastated to discover her baby will be born deaf. There’s the father-daughter drama in “The Day After I’m Gone,” father-son conflict in “The Etruscan Smile,” and an ex-con and his family dealing with his return in “Forgiveness.”

On the comedy side, “Douze Points” is a caper set at the Eurovision Song Contest, “Mossad!” is a spy parody about a Mossad agent and a CIA agent competing to save the world from terrorists, “Love in Suspenders” follows a sweet senior citizen romance, and the award-winning “Tel Aviv on Fire” pokes fun at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s the festival’s closing night selection.

Attendees will get to sample two popular Israeli TV series: “Nehama,” a dramedy starring creator Reshef Levi, the best performance winner at Canneseries; and “The Dayan Family,” following five generations of the dynasty called “The Israeli Kennedys.”

Fenigstein promises something for everyone. “They’re good films that give a wide perspective on what Israel is all about — what’s happening now and what happened before,” he said. “Come out and support Israeli culture and enjoy the films.”

The Israel Film Festival runs Nov. 12-26. Visit the website for film schedule and other information.