Korean dark comedy ‘Parasite’ to open 10 days of Jerusalem Film Festival
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Korean dark comedy ‘Parasite’ to open 10 days of Jerusalem Film Festival

200 screenings and other movie-related events kick off July 25 throughout the capital

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

A Korean tale of comic drama opens this year’s 36th Jerusalem Film Festival, July 25 at Sultan’s Pool, with the Israeli debut screening of “Parasite,” Korean Bong Joon-ho’s acclaimed film that won the Palm d’Or for Best Film at Cannes this year.

The dramatic comedy is about a poor family whose adult children take turns in a problematic plan to infiltrate a wealthy family’s mansion. The film, a box-office hit in Korea and France, and which is being distributed worldwide, has been applauded by both critics and audiences.

(If you don’t make it to the festival, “Parasite” will be distributed in Israel by Nachshon Films and Red Cape Ltd. and will reach theaters throughout the country in August.)

During the same evening, a Life Achievement Award will be granted on behalf of the festival to legendary Israeli film promoter Katriel Schory, who will be stepping down from his role as director of the Israel Film Fund after two decades.

That’s for the start of the ten-day festival.

More than 200 films from Israel and abroad will be screened during the event, which opens July 25 and closes August 4.

The featured films are from 60 countries, including the grand prize winners at the Berlinale, Cannes, Venice and Sundance festivals. This year, the films will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Lev Smadar, two cinemas at Yes Planet, the Jerusalem Theater, Gan Habonim (an outdoor venue) and other locations.

Other festival events include meetings with filmmakers, film workshops, debuts, parties, performances and outdoor events. A mobile movie theater equipped with quality projectors brings free screenings to neighborhoods throughout the city.

The festival holds ten competitions for Israeli and international films with prizes totaling close to NIS 1 million. This year, the festival will hold a new pitching event for independent Israeli short film screenplays in collaboration with Gesher Film Fund, with a prize of NIS 250,000 awarded to the most promising work.

From ‘Liber-Man,’ a documentary film being shown at the 2019 Jerusalem Film Festival, in July (Courtesy Eldad Refaeli)

Fourteen Israeli feature and documentary films will be screened as part of the Panorama program, and the Van Leer Competition for Israeli Shorts has more than a dozen films, ranging in length from 4 to 24 minutes.

The competition films include features about a suspended police officer, a dark comedy about a Jerusalem guide who offers tours of famous terror attacks, love after a child is born, African refugees and their future in Israel, a single, middle-aged father, and Palestinian children smuggled into Jaffa.

From the documentary films being shown at the 2019 Jerusalem Film Festival, ‘To Reawaken Yossi,’ about singer Yossi Banai (Courtesy Hananya Nino Herman)

In the Israeli documentaries, there is a film about Yossi Banai, who died 13 years ago, politician Avigdor Liberman’s rise to power, and a Druze village with a high rate of high school graduates. 

The festival will also host a gala screening of a digitally restored copy of “Bar 51,” Amos Guttman’s 1985 film about a brother and sister in Tel Aviv. Guttman, an early filmmaker from the 1970s, died from AIDS in 1993.

From ‘A Fish Tale,’ a documentary film about an African refugee family in Israel and their future (Courtesy Emanuel Meir)

University students can buy a NIS 90 Student Pass, which provides special benefits between July 28 and August 1: free admission to film screenings, tickets to special performances, a screening of “Back to The Future” accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, parties and meetings with filmmakers.

The festival is directed by the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s Noa Regev, with art direction from Elad Smorzik, and is held with the support of the Israeli Film Council at the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Jerusalem Municipality, Jerusalem Development Authority, Jerusalem Foundation, and Van Leer Foundation.

The festival’s full program is available as of July 7 on the festival website.

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