The Israel Film Festival, with annual screenings in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, has showcased nearly 900 feature films, documentaries and student shorts over its 26 years. The Miami leg of the festival, which began yesterday and runs through May 10, features over 25 recent Israeli films.
“The mission of the Israel Film Festival is to enrich the American vision of Israeli life and culture, to spotlight Israel’s thriving film and television industry, and to promote cultural recognition of Israel through the powerful medium of film,” the festival writes on its website.
Meir Fenigstein founded the event in 1982 with only six films and a vision of American and Israeli cooperation. In fact, the festival has helped over 400 Israeli filmmakers make connections with their colleagues in Hollywood.
Jorge Weller’s musical romantic comedy “Salsa Tel Aviv” follows single mother Vicky, who falls for Israeli scientist Yoni on her way to Israel to track down her deadbeat ex-husband. Quasi-comedies “Obsession” and “My Lovely Sister” similarly deal with the drama and misunderstandings between couples.
Dramatic history “The Fifth Heaven,” directed by Dina Zvi Riklis, journeys to Palestine in 1944. Abandoned by her mother and father, 13-year-old Maya struggles to find her place in a girl’s orphanage in the tumultuous country. Also charting the difficulties of living in Israel are subdued dramas “Restoration” and “My Australia.”
A mixed Tel Aviv classroom, with Arabs, Jews, Chinese, and Pilipino children, attempts to deal with the cultural conflict of the Gaza War in “World Class Kids.” Less successful at wrestling with identity are “The Zilber and Me” and “77 Steps.”
Though it recycles much of the material introduced by the Los Angeles festival, the Miami version is sure to make a splash with its innovative films and unusual themes.