A host of options at the Jerusalem film festival

Mamet, Jonze, and a focus on local movies among 200 features from 50 countries, as annual movie event aims for viewers of all ages

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The Jerusalem Cinematheque’s 31st annual Jerusalem Film Festival begins Thursday night, July 10, with “Dancing Arabs,” directed by Eran Riklis and based on Sayed Kashua’s novels “Dancing Arabs” and “Second Person Singular.”

“We’re opening with an Israeli film that can appeal to a wide audience but still has a deep message,” said Cinematheque director Noa Regev. “It’s an Israeli film, filmed in Jerusalem, about the issues that define our country.”

In an effort to highlight the Israeli filmmaking industry, Regev and the festival staff have included all the Israeli films that won prizes in recent international festivals, including “Gett,” a recent film by Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz, “Boreg,” by Shira Geffen, and “The Kindergarten Teacher” by Nadiv Lapid.

This year, the festival will feature 200 films from 50 countries, with a mix of genres, from romantic comedies and animated films to movies about movies, human rights, Judaism, families and relationships. There will be films screened in the Old City with Arabic subtitles and films shown outdoors in the city’s First Station complex.

More than 20 international journalists will be attending the festival, along with American directors Spike Jonze and David Mamet, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, South Korean director Park Chan-wook and German actress Martina Gedeck. Screen International Magazine will also be offering daily coverage of the festival.

In addition to the dozens of daily screenings, there is a long list of events, including awards ceremonies, interactions between filmmakers and the annual Pitch Point session with budding filmmakers and directors.

Here’s a look at some of the films being screened, as well as a few picks from festival director Noa Regev.

  • Rob Reiner’s latest romantic comedy, “And So It Goes,” stars Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas joking about sex and aging. Regev tried to get Douglas, who was just here for his son’s bar mitzvah, to stick around for the festival, but no luck.

  •  An official selection for the New York and Toronto Film Festivals was “At Berkeley,” from seasoned documentarian Frederick Wiseman, about the iconic Northern California university.

  • “I, Dior” is a look behind the scenes of the world-renowned Christian Dior House of Fashion, and in the presence of the director, Frédéric Tcheng.

  • Watch the story of “Famous Nathan” about the famous New York hot dog stand that got started 100 years ago on Coney Island.
  • Regev has a soft spot for “Swim Little Fish Swim,” about a young French artist trying to make it in New York.

  • This is a good chance to see “Jersey Boys,” Clint Eastwood’s latest film about Frankie Valli, a Broadway musical adapted for the screen.

  • Need a dose of Oz? The festival is screening “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” on the return of Dorothy (the voice of Lea Michele from “Glee”) to Oz to save her friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man.

  • Noa Regev loves “Cathedrals of Culture,” a 3D project from six different directors, including Wim Wenders and Robert Redford, who were asked to choose six iconic buildings that speak to the soul.

  • Regev also put in a good word for “Jacky in the Kingdom of Women,” a comedy about a country where women are in power and men wear the burqas.

  • There’s no trailer for “The Go-Go Boys,” a documentary examining the complex relationship of filmmakers and cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, but with the two men present for the screening, this is bound to be a worthwhile event.

 All films and events scheduled for the Jerusalem Film Festival are listed in Hebrew and English on the JFF site, where tickets can be purchased for all events.

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