It’s been a complicated week at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
It began with the postponement and then partial cancellation of the highly-anticipated opening night, a screening of Sayed Kashua’s “Dancing Arabs.”
The opening-night film screening, normally held annually in Jerusalem’s open-air Sultan’s Pool venue in the shadow of the Old City walls, had to be called off due to the rockets that began falling in the capital two nights earlier.
Then other cancellations were announced. While most of the filmmakers, directors and guests invited to the festival ended up arriving, some chose not to, like Austrian director Ulrich Seidl.
On Tuesday, director Spike Jonze, who did arrive in Jerusalem, canceled his master class due to be held Wednesday after a screening of his film, “Being John Malkovich.”
Jonze wrote the following note: “Dear filmmakers and filmgoers, I apologize for not being there with you tonight. It felt like the wrong time for me to be talking about movies with everything going on. I hope you understand. I will come back again and screen movies and talk film with you when the time is right. My heart is with you and everyone who is suffering right now.”
Noa Regev, director general of the festival, said she respected Jonze’s decision, and apologized to those who were looking forward to the event.
Other events went forward as planned — the children’s film festival was screened in packed theaters, while directors David Mamet and Park Chan-wook each held master classes.
Over the weekend, the festival premiered “Gett — The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” the third in a film trilogy from brother-and-sister duo Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz, as well as “Aliza,” a documentary about actress Aliza Rosen from another sibling pair, Boaz and Tomer Heymann.
Some 14 budding filmmakers pitched films during the eight-hour annual PitchPoint, and three of the four Israelis won the top three prizes. Ram Nahari won €7,000 ($9,478) for his film, “NILS,” while Nir Bergman won €6,000 ($8,124) for “Saving Neta” and Elad Keidan won €5,000 ($6,770) for “Our Financial Situation.”
As of now, the festival management is organizing a smaller, indoor screening of Kashua’s film on Thursday and will hold the planned award ceremony at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Saturday night.