Israel Film Festival Wows Audiences in New York and LA

The Israel Film Festival Still Going Strong in the Big Apple

In the 1980s Israeli musician Meir Fenigstein decided to create a venue through which Israeli films would be available to the American audience. It was not that Americans could not see Israeli movies, but as foreign films, they were shown only in small art houses, and oftentimes by the time one would find out about a particular movie, it would no longer be available. The Israeli movie industry was developing and producing increasingly inspiring and entertaining films and it seemed a shame that they did not have the opportunity for greater exposure to American moviegoers.

Israeli films come to America

encirclements actors
Assi Levy, Agam Ozalvo and Lior Ashkenazi in Encirclements- Photo by Ran Mendelson

The Israel Film Festival began in New York in the 1980s and after gaining traction there, expanded to Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami. Around four years ago, the New York festival seemed to have reached its nadir, appearing to be on its way out. Fortunately, the Manhattan JCC jumped in and the festival has been going strong ever since. The 2016 Festival is taking place this week at the JCC in Manhattan and features eleven standout films, among them: “Baba Joon”, “Dawn”, “Encirclements”, and “Kind Words.”

“Baba Joon” won the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars. It is about a Persian Jewish family who make aliyah to Israel. The older generation wants to hold on to the rituals and cultural traditions passed down over thousands of years, while the newer generation is eager to become a part of the modern world. The movie explores the dynamics of this conflict within the family. “Dawn” was written by legendary author and speaker Elie Wiesel and is being premiered at the New York festival. It focuses on the establishment of British Mandate Palestine. “Encirclements”, is a coming of age story about a Mizrachi bar mitzvah boy. “Kind Words” explores the depths of family relationships following the death of the matriarch. The Festival also includes a chance to meet and hear from some of the most dynamic members of Israel’s film industry.

Here in Los Angeles, we will celebrate 30 years of the Israel Film Festival, with a star-studded lineup of special guests, speakers, movie industry power brokers and patrons. The opening night gala will take place on November 9, 2016, with the festival continuing until the 23rd.


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