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FESTIVALS Israel

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Stephen Frears’ The Program opens the Haifa International Film Festival

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- The 31st edition awards Claude Lanzmann with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and pays tribute to old and new films reflecting on the present

Stephen Frears’ The Program opens the Haifa International Film Festival
The Program by Stephen Frears

The 31st Haifa International Film Festival opened on 26 September and will run until 9 October, boasting a selection of 180 films that “reflect contemporary reality from many corners of the world; images of suffering and compassion, taking refuge and immigration, tyranny and striving for peace and coexistence”, as introduced by Pnina Blayer, the artistic director of the festival.

The guest of honour is Claude Lanzmann, who receives the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. His milestone documentary on the Nazi genocide, Shoah, a massive work of 560 minutes, will be screened in two parts alongside some of his more recent documentaries (Sobibor, Oct. 14, 1943, 4p.m., The Karski Report and The Last of the Unjust [+see also:
trailer
festival scope
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]
).

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Chairing the jury of the Israeli Features Competition is internationally renowned Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, to whom the festival is concurrently paying tribute by screening some of his recent works (A Moment of Innocence, Daddy’s School, The President [+see also:
film review
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interview: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
film profile
]
, The Gardener) as well as The Cyclist from 1987. He is joined by Karel Och, artistic director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Laurence Kardish, the former long-time senior curator for film at MoMA in New York, and Yvonne Miklosh and Julie Schlez, both filmmakers with numerous features and documentaries under their belts. The competition includes Yuval Delshad’s award-winning Baba Joon, which won four Ophir Awards, among them Best Feature Film, thereby qualifying as Israel’s Oscars submission. Best Screenplay went to Afterthought by Elad Keidan, also in competition at Haifa.

Further sections include the Carmel Competition, featuring several Oscar picks for 2016, such as Romania’s Aferim! [+see also:
film review
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interview: Radu Jude
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]
by Radu Jude, Kosovo’s Babai [+see also:
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interview: Visar Morina
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]
by Visar Morina, Goran Radovanović’s Enclave [+see also:
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]
for Serbia, Iceland’s Rams [+see also:
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interview: Grimur Hakonarson
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]
by Grímur Hákonarson and Belgium’s choice of The Brand New Testament [+see also:
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interview: Jaco van Dormael
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]
by Jaco van Dormael.

Other sections include, for the second time, Between Judaism and Israelism, which will award international films exploring Israeli and Jewish identities, and a rich Israeli Documentaries Competition, with Ari Davidovich’s Bird in the Room focusing on the life of Israeli poet and songwriter Tirza Atar and Danae Elon’s P.S. Jerusalem, which has just had its world premiere at Toronto. Stephen Frears’ opening film, The Program [+see also:
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interview: Stephen Frears
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]
, is part of the Gala section, showcasing some major international productions, among them Julio Medem’s Ma Ma [+see also:
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]
and Scott Cooper’s Black Mass.

Alongside the film screenings, four master classes are taking place, giving attendees the chance to listen to some of the top-notch filmmakers invited to this year’s festival: guest of honour Claude Lanzmann and jury member Mohsen Makhmalbaf. A master class on The Tramp by Charlie Chaplin, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, is being held by Chaplin expert Serge Bromberg, who is also taking on the responsibility of being part of the jury for the Carmel Competition.

In parallel, the Haifa International Film Festival’s industry events will invite filmmakers to screen their works in progress during the Cinemarket 5, while DocuVillage will give young documentary filmmakers the chance to engage in dialogue with special guest Lanzmann.

For more information on the festival, click here.

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