Groundbreaking Israeli short film, now 50, gets royal treatment
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Golden anniversary

Groundbreaking Israeli short film, now 50, gets royal treatment

‘Voice Over,’ made by six Israeli directors and starring major actors, reboots Avraham Heffner’s award-winning work from the 1960s, and marks four years since his death

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

The short film, a genre that’s received increasing attention and accolades in recent years, gets another boost with “Voice Over,” a cinematic tribute to the 50th anniversary of “Slow Down,” the award-winning short film classic made by director Avraham Heffner.

It was Heffner, who died in 2014, who first introduced the genre in Israel.

Now, 50 years after the release of the 1968 film, six filmmakers, graduates of the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem, returned to the masterpiece and made “Voice Over,” a collaborative short film starring grande dame Gila Almagor, comic actress Dana Ivgy and Palestinian actor Mahram Kouri, among others.

The film is meant to show appreciation for Heffner’s art, while bringing a more modern take to his storylines.

The participating directors in “Voice Over” are Nir Bergman, Maya King, Tom Shoval, Eitan Anner, Sigalit Lipschitz and Orit Fox-Rotem, all graduates of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, whose director, Renen Schorr, helped orchestrate the project.

Avraham Heffner, the award-winning Israeli filmmaker who died in 2014 and is being remembered for his contribution to Israeli cinema this month, four years after his death (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Heffner’s film has also been restored in the four years since his 2014 death, and will be showed alongside the new film.

“Voice Over” will enter local theaters next weekend to mark four years since Heffner’s 2014 death. There will also be a special broadcast in his memory on September 14 on Yes 3.

“Slow Down,” a 14-minute film inspired by a Simone de Beauvoir story, earned Heffner a Silver Lion for best short at the Venice Film Festival and marked a new era in Israeli filmmaking.

At the time, the film broke away from the so-called bourekas films of the 1960s as well as the tendency toward films with a nationalist stripe. It was an emotional, relationship-focused story, a style that now marks modern Israeli cinema.

Heffner’s first feature-length film, “But Where Is Daniel Wax?” (1972), is also considered one of the greatest Israeli films ever made. It tells the story of an Israeli singer living in the US, who returns home for a class reunion and turns his attention to a search for a missing classmate.

The Haifa-born Heffner, who first worked as an actor and writer, was honored in 2004 by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television with an Ophir Award for Lifetime Achievement.

He studied French literature at the Sorbonne, which led to his adaptation of the Simone de Beauvoir story into “Slow Down.”

Heffner later served for many years as a lecturer and then as professor emeritus at the Tel Aviv University School of Film and Television.

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