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Reeling from virus, Jerusalem Film Fest to go online

Annual summertime festival hosted by the Jerusalem Cinematheque moves to December and goes online, but is still holding out hopes for some in-person events

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

Jerusalem’s beloved annual summertime film festival is finally taking place December 10-20, but will be held online instead of on the silver screen, according to the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the arthouse theater that hosts the annual film celebration.

The film organization is still holding out hope with regard to screening some films in person, and would do so according to Health Ministry guidelines.

“We believe there is no better option than meeting in person, with the audience, filmmakers and a film on the big screen,” said Jerusalem Cinematheque director Noa Regev, “but we did this to bring film to peoples’ homes, and no matter what, we’ll finish this challenging year with a real celebration for all film lovers.”

Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox’s newest film, “Sublet,” which first premiered at New York’s Tribeca Festival, will open the Jerusalem Film Festival.

The film stars familiar stage actor John Benjamin Hickey as Michael, a New York Times travel writer in Tel Aviv on assignment, where he sublets an apartment from Tomer, played by newcomer Niv Nissim.

The film tells the story of Michael, a New York Times reporter who comes to Israel while struggling with relationship issues back home with his longtime partner, and sublets the apartment of Tomer, a young filmmaker who volunteers to show him the city. The budding friendship with Tomer and Tel Aviv’s energies renew Michael’s belief in life.

Fox, who first landed in Israel’s filmmaking landscape with his 2002 gay romance “Yossi & Jagger,” co-wrote “Sublet” with Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Itay Segel.

Another 80 films will be screened in the festival, along with six competitions for Israeli films, documentary Israeli film, Israeli film shorts, experimental films, international films and international debut films.

The festival will close with the romantic comedy “Love Affair(s),” from French filmmaker Emmanuel Mouret, who weaves together stories of couples and relationships in his lighthearted look at love, sex and infidelity.

The virtual festival will use technology from the company Shift72, also used by other film festivals worldwide, in order to offer a user-friendly, high-quality screening experience.

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