Gabizon comedy tops Jerusalem fest

'Tragedies' tops fest thin on foreign attendees

JERUSALEN — Savi Gabizon’s bittersweet comedy about a teenager and his recently widowed aunt, “Nina’s Tragedies,” swept the board at the Jerusalem Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday. It nabbed prizes for film, script, cinematography and actress Ayelet Zorer.

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’ “James’ Journey to Jerusalem,” about an African’s ill-fated pilgrimage to the Holy City, received a special mention. Its star Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe won the actor award.

Celebrating its 20th year, fest unfolded during a period of relative calm in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the declaration of a three-month truce by Palestinian militant groups at the beginning of July.

Despite this, foreign attendees were thin on the ground with just 65 guests flying in. But locals were out in force with box office reported up some 5%-10%.

Top doc prize went to Anat Halachimi’s “Channels of Rage,” about a Zionist rapper and his Arab Israeli counterpart. The verbose rivals delighted audiences with an impromptu rap session at its fest screening.

Outside the main competition, Indian Mani Ratnam’s “A Peck on the Cheek,” about an Indian-bred girl’s search for her mother, a Tamil refugee, picked up the Wim van Leer in the Spirit of Freedom Award.

Palestinian Hany Abu-Assad’s “Ford Transit,” capturing the impact of Israeli checkpoints on life in Ramallah through the eyes of a taxi driver, won the award for doc in the section.

Marceline Loridan-Ivens’ semi-biographical “The Birch Tree Meadow,” starring Anouk Aimee as an Auschwitz survivor who returns to Poland, took first prize in the Jewish Experience section.

“This film is being made in the closing days of my life,” commented Loridan-Ivens, widow of pioneer docmaker Joris Ivens. “I made this film because we’re all disappearing.”

The winning doc in the section, Amalia Margolin and Oshra Schwartz’ “My 100 Children,” told the tale of a Polish Jewess who took 100 Jewish orphans under her wing after World War II.

Many of the children, now in their 60s and 70s, attended the emotionally charged fest screening.

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