The 17th edition of the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival will feature a review of new Israeli cinema. Israel is currently producing some of the most interesting cinema anywhere in the world. The country's rapidly developing film industry is vibrant and engaging, while offering surprisingly fresh ideas in terms of narrative forms and constantly confronting the world around us. Israeli cinema, like the society that it stems from, is diverse and is looking for new identities. At this year's New Horizons, we will take a closer look at Israeli cinema in an attempt to see just what gives it its strength.
"Everything is political here," says Hagar Ben-Asher, an Israeli director who won an award at Cannes for her debut film and whose latest work, The Burglar,will be screened atNew Horizons. Ben-Asher's feminist, girlish film deals with finding one's wild side, and it openly questions traditional roles in society. New Israeli cinema is confrontational, and it does not shy away from challenges or taboo subjects. "First and foremost, I wanted to show a country that is changing rapidly. Through the eyes of directors and artists whose work is an instrument that is a response to the social, political, and cultural context, a barometer of the current situation," says Ewa Szabłowska, the section's curator. "We have a completely postmodern Tel-Aviv, whose nightlife and social life are not so different from that of New York or Berlin. And the millennials living there are occupied with First World problems." This is beautifully demonstrated in People That Are Not Me by Hadas Ben Aroya, who has been called "Israel's Lena Dunham." Its sister film, In Between, also deals with the lives of young women in Tel-Aviv, with the difference being that Maysaloun Hamoud's protagonists are Palestinians.
The emancipation of Arab women is a very hot topic, since feminism is becoming a much stronger force in religious communities with a strong patriarchal structure. The section also includes The Wedding Plan, an atypical romantic comedy by Rama Bursthein, who, before she began traveling the international film festival circuit, spent many years working in a women's film collection, where she made films for Hasids. Haredi is cinema for women from ultra-religious communities. Films shot and produced by women are aimed at audiences made up of Orthodox women. For religious reasons, men may not act in these films, they may not be a part of the production crew, and they may not even watch them together with women. Film critic Marlyn Venig, the author of Haredi Women's Cinema, will discuss them.
The section program will also include Yaniv Berman's Land of the Little People, a modern version of Lord of the Flies, showing the machismo of war culture played out by a gang of children; Eitan Anner's award-winning A Quiet Heart; Daniel Mann's Low Tide, which was shown at this year's Berlinale; as well as the acclaimedTikkun by Avishai Sivan.
The review of new Israeli cinema will be accompanied by an exhibition called Homefront, which will provide a broader look at the attitudes and issues taken on by Israeli filmmakers, as well as at strategies and discourses initiated at the intersection of cinema and visual arts.
The Embassy of Israel in Warsaw is the official partner for the New Israeli Cinema section.