Festival runs from July 21-31

Dystopian dramas, dark fantasy and chance encounters await at Jerusalem Film Fest

The annual summer event includes a wide selection of Israeli and international films, along with outdoor screenings and conversations with filmmakers around Jerusalem

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

From the 2021 Jerusalem Film Festival opening event in the Sultan's Pool outside the Old City walls (Courtesy Itamar Ginsburg)
From the 2021 Jerusalem Film Festival opening event in the Sultan's Pool outside the Old City walls (Courtesy Itamar Ginsburg)

From Cronenberg to Korea to Cohen: The Jerusalem Film Festival, opening July 21, this year showcases over 200 Israeli and international films, ranging from director David Cronenberg’s sci-fi return to the big screen, to several South Korean flicks, a Leonard Cohen documentary, a stream of dystopian and dark fantasy tales, and a dreamy tour of modern-day Tahiti.

The first international film of the event is Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness,” opening the festival July 21 with an outdoor screening at Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool.

There are several award-winning South Korean films being shown this year, starting with “Decision to Leave,” a romantic mystery directed by Park Chan-wook and selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where Chan-wook won Best Director.

Another South Korean drama being screened is “Broker,” directed and written by Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film is about Korea’s baby boxes, where infants are dropped off anonymously to be cared for by others. This film too selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, and won Ecumenical Jury Award and the Best Actor Award for Song Kang-ho.

“Crimes of the Future” is director David Cronenberg’s first science fiction horror film since his 1999 “eXistenZ.” Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart star in his return to the body horror genre, which received a six-minute standing ovation at Cannes.

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne are back with their continuing look at exiled Africans in Belgium in “Tori and Lokita.”

Need something a little lighter? Try filmmaker Albert Serra’s languorous film tour of modern-day Tahiti in “Pacification.”

It’s all black-and-white in “The Novelist’s Film,” the South Korean drama written by Hong Sang-soo about the beauty of chance encounters, a winner of the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Another dark fantasy comes to life in “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” co-written and directed by George Miller, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton.

On the opposite end of the feature spectrum is “Corsage,” a period drama written and directed by Marie Kreutzer and starring Vicky Krieps as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria who is idolized and depressed.

In the French zombie comedy film “Final Cut” directed by Michel Hazanavicius, a crew remakes the film depicted in the original 2017 Japanese film, “One Cut of the Dead.”

There’s also Iranian film “A Hero” from Asghar Farhadi and Austrian drama “Rimini” directed by Ulrich Seidl about a formerly famous Austrian pop singer who has settled in Italy.

The list continues, and, as covered in The Times of Israel, “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” a new documentary about the legendary Jewish singer, will be screened as well.

Guests at the festival include Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, who will meet with audiences for screenings of two of his previous films, part of a retrospective of his work.

Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and her partner, French-Israeli actor/director Yvan Attal, will be on hand to screen Attal’s latest film, “The Accusation,” starring Gainsbourg.

German director Volker Schlöndorff will be at the festival to judge the Israeli film competition. His latest film, “The Forest Maker,” also being screened, is about Australian scientist Tony Rinaudo, who helped reforest many parts of Africa’s Sahel region.

Cambodia’s Rithy Panh is coming to screen his essay film, “Everything Will Be Ok,” inspired by the upheavals felt worldwide, including the pandemic, Myanmar’s political violence and the January 6 riot on the Capitol in the US.

Other events during the film festival include film-themed cocktail hours at local bars, along with JFF Downtown, a series of conversations with Israeli artists and actors at the city’s favorite watering holes.

Rooftop Cinema is three evenings of pub quizzes, movie karaoke and screenings of films that never saw the light of day at the Muslala Rooftop on top of the Clal Building in Jersualem.

Grab a snack and flick at the JFF Trucks that will be parked around various Jerusalem neighborhoods for screenings of family-friendly films as well as children’s films during the course of the festival.

The Jerusalem Film Festival runs from July 21-31.

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