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That Other Israel Film Festival

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That Other Israel Film Festival

For those with an interest in the complexities of and diversities of people within Israeli society, there’s a film festival with that specific aim in mind. Not to be confused with the multi-city Israel Film Festival, which occurs in the spring and just celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Other Film Film Festival is currently in its fifth year, presenting over a dozen films with a focus on Arab and Palestinian culture. The festival does not shy away from controversy, tackling hard-hitting topics involving interreligious relationships and citizenship issues, among others. The most notable of the projects presented this year is probably Israel’s version of the hit series The Office, titled Ha’Misrad, returning to the festival with new episodes after having its U.S. premiere there last year. The festival only lasts one week, from November 10th-17th, but there are still plenty of offerings to choose from, so here are five films worth catching.

torn

Torn – Screening November 15 at 8:45pm & November 16 at 7:00pm

This extremely interesting documentary follows Catholic priest Romuald Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel, who discovers that he was born to Jewish parents in Poland during the Holocaust. Waszkinel is drawn to the State of Israel and his Jewish heritage, which prompts him to come live on a religious kibbutz and struggle with the enormous disconnect between his two faiths. The subject matter is very enticing, and this exploration of his character and his religiousness doesn’t disappoint.

Lost Paradise – Screening November 13 at 7pm & November 16 at 8:45pm

This ten-minute short film manages to be remarkably meaningful and thought-provoking with barely any dialogue and two strong performers acting using only body language and facial expressions. Shown in conjunction with two other slightly longer shorts, Transparent Black and Stitches, this roughly hour-long presentation will be effective for those with shorter attention spans looking to get just a small sample of what the festival has to offer.

The Human Turbine – Screening November 13 at 5:00pm & November 15 at 7:00pm

This chronicle of a groundbreaking use of solar energy in a Palestinian village is not best described as an environmental documentary, emphasizing instead a spirit of cooperation and collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis. This film stands out as one of the few at this or last year’s festival that actually underlines peaceful coexistence, with little to no conflict due to a shared interest in success and community. Their energy efforts may be impressive, but the general spirit of positivity and enthusiasm for this shared project is what’s truly inspiring.

Homecoming – Screening November 14 at 7:00pm & November 15 at 7:00pm

This engaging documentary follows three teenagers who have spent all of their lives living in Israel as the children of foreign workers, taking their first trips back home to the Congo, Peru, and the Phillipines, respectively, where they meet their families and contemplate their connections to Israel. Rather than try to prove a grand, sweeping point, the filmmakers really get to know their protagonists and create a meaningful portrait of a sample from an oft-ignored population.

77 Steps – Screening November 12 at 7:00pm, November 13 at 3:00pm & November 14 at 8:45pm

This documentary is directed by its star, Ibtisam Mara’ana, a Palestinian Arab running for office, as she describes herself, determined to fight for the rights of all in Israel, and involved with Yoni, a Canadian Jew who moved to Israel six years earlier. Normal interactions and events such as voting or celebrating holidays are divisive, stressful experiences, and Ibtisam often finds herself stifled by Yoni. Like other films about Arab-Israeli relationships, it represents a constant struggle for civility, and serves as an intriguing glimpse into a complicated situation.

Visit the official festival website here.

lost paradise

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