Focus on Israeli cinema

Celebrating its 23rd edition this year, Haifa is Israel’s oldest film fest. With a special focus on Mediterranean cinema, it boasts two competitions: the Golden Anchor for Mediterranean cinema and the Fipresci-Haifa prize for first- and second-time films. Fest unspools some 150 features, all of which are Israeli preems, and features a special focus on Israeli cinema.

While fest is boycotted by a majority of Arab states, films from Moroccan, Tunisian and Palestinian filmmakers are regularly presented. As a particularly mixed city of Jews and Arabs, Haifa makes a special effort to showcase Palestinian films, with fest officials devoting a day each year to Palestinian cinema.

“We emphasize films that look at co-existence and pluralism,” fest director Pnina Blayer says. “It’s very sad that we cannot show most Arab films, because we would love to screen them purely from an artistic point of view for the festival. In the end, it’s not up to me. It’s up to them.”

But Blayer is keen for politics to remain in the background this year. “The first thing is that the film has to be good,” Blayer says. “… It’s the only chance for Israeli audiences to see them.”

FEST INFO

When: Sept. 27-Oct. 4

Web: haifaff.co.il

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