TEL AVIV — As rocket-alert sirens continued to ring out throughout Israel on Wednesday, staffers at the Jerusalem Film Festival made a last-minute call to postpone the festival’s opening night events, originally scheduled for Thursday evening at Jerusalem’s outdoor Sultan’s Pool.
With tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at their highest point in years following the deaths of four teenagers — three Israeli boys who were kidnapped in the West Bank, and one Palestinian boy snatched by Jewish extremists — Israel launched an air offensive in Gaza and Palestinian militants pummeled Israeli cities, including Jerusalem, with rocket fire.
The Jerusalem Film Festival was originally scheduled to kick off Thursday with the world premiere of Eran Riklis’s “Dancing Arabs” (pictured) which was lensed entirely in Jerusalem and written by Israeli-Arab journalist and author Sayed Kashua. The gala screening at Sultan’s Pool, an open-air venue located below the Old City Ramparts, was deemed too risky a location in light of the security situation. Instead, the screening will be held exactly one week later, on July 17, while the rest of the festival will continue as planned.
All other festival events are held indoors at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the nearby Misheknot Sh’ananim conference center, and their calendar remains unchanged. Over 200 films are set to be screened, and notable guests expected to attend include Spike Jonze, David Mamet, Ulrich Seidl, Park Chan-Wook and Martina Gedeck.
“The escalation in the last few days has been distressing to all of us, and we are hoping that quieter days will come soon,” said Noa Regev, the fest’s newly tapped director. “The festival will continue as planned, in accordance with the guidelines given to us by the Homefront Command and the police. The team at the Jerusalem Cinematheque is looking forward to seeing the many lovers of cinema who visit us each year.”