Opening shot

Golda Meir biopic starring Helen Mirren to open 40th Jerusalem Film Festival

French film and Cannes winner ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ to close annual festival on August 23

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Helen Mirren in 'Golda,' opening the Jerusalem Film Festival, July 13-23, 2023. (Courtesy United King Films)
Helen Mirren in 'Golda,' opening the Jerusalem Film Festival, July 13-23, 2023. (Courtesy United King Films)

Oscar hopeful “Golda,” starring the award-winning actress Helen Mirren as Israel’s first and only female prime minister so far, will open the 40th Jerusalem Film Festival on July 13 at the annual outdoor screening, organizers said Wednesday.

The American-British biographical drama directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, produced by Israeli production company United King and starring Liev Schreiber as Henry Kissinger, depicts the life of Meir, with a focus on the period of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The film is framed by Meir’s testimony to the Agranat Commission, which investigated the lead-up to the war. As the film shows through flashbacks, Meir appears to have not acted quickly enough on Mossad intelligence about a possible attack from Egyptian and Syrian forces. Israeli forces were surprised on the holiday and initially lost ground; both sides lost thousands of troops, and the war is seen as a major trauma in Israeli history — the moment when the state’s conception of its military superiority over its Arab neighbors was shattered. The film is claustrophobic, shot mostly indoors — in bunkers, hospital rooms and government offices — and offers an apt visual encapsulation of the loss the war would bring.

“Golda” premiered at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival in February, and will be released to Israeli theaters on August 24.

Jerusalem Cinematheque director Roni Mahadav-Levin and festival artistic director Elad Samorzik called the film “an impressive and immersive international production that provides a glimpse into the most fateful days in the life of one of the key figures in the history of the State of Israel.”

The festival will close August 23 with French thriller and Cannes 2023 winner “Anatomy of a Fall,” directed by Justine Triet from a screenplay co-written by Triet and Arthur Harari.

Mahadav-Levin and Samorzik said “Anatomy of a Fall’ is “full of transcendence – cinematic, intellectual and emotional,” keeping viewers in suspense while providing minute diagnoses on relationships, parenting, and the dynamics between the sexes.

The Jerusalem Film Festival will take place July 13-23, with more than 200 films from 50 countries including the top Israeli films of the year and winners from the Berlinale, Cannes, Venice and Sundance festivals.

The opening event will be held at Sultan’s Pool, the outdoor amphitheater located directly under the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

JTA contributed to this report.

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