Sundance and Oscar smile on Israel


A scene from the Israeli film "Restoration"

When it comes to the silver screen, the past few weeks have been good ones for Israel and Israeli filmmakers.
Two Israeli filmmakers took home awards last weekend from the Sundance Film festival in Park City, Utah.  Erez Kav-El captured the world cinema dramatic screenwriting award for his film “Restoration,” a richly textured depiction of modern Israeli society that tells the story of Yakov Fidelman who is forced to deal with his estranged son when he discovers his antique furniture-restoration shop is in grave financial difficulty.
Talya Lavie received an Inaugural Sundance Institute Mahindra Global Film-making award, which recognizes and supports emerging independent filmmakers from around the world.
Lavie’s film, “Zero Motivation,” is a sometimes comic, often dramatic look at the power struggles of three female clerks who work, over the course of a year, in an administrative office at a remote army base in the Israeli desert.

A scene from "Strangers No More"

In Oscar news…the Israeli documentary “Precious Life”  had been shortlisted for the Best Documentary Film category in the 83rd Academy Awards, alongside 15 feature documentaries.  In the end, however, director Shlomi Eldar’s moving film tracking the breathtaking race to save the life of a desperately ill Palestinian baby didn’t make the cut.
But teachers and students from a south Tel Aviv school were giddy with excitement when they learned that “Strangers No More,” a documentary about their school – the renowned Bialik-Rogozin school on Rehov Aliya in the heart of south Tel Aviv — was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short category.  The film by American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman follows the lives of the school’s educators and students at school, where more than 800 children from 48 countries are taught.

Footnote:  “Precious Life” will be screened as part of the Hartford Jewish Film Festival in March.

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