‘Decompression’ Wins Jerusalem’s Sam Spiegel Lab Award

JERUSALEM, Israel — Yona Rozenkier’s feature debut “Decompression” won the top award of the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab’s fifth edition which runs alongside the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Produced by Kobi Mizrahi, “Decompression” received a production grant worth $50,000 from the Beracha Foundation.

“The jury was impressed by the genuine and emotional father and son story from north of Israel to south. The mix between drama and humor is very well balanced. The very visual metaphoric ending is so powerful, you will not forget it,” said Slawomir Idzak, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer who presided the Sam Spiegel Lab jury.

Exploring a dysfunctional father-and-son relationship, “Decompression” turns on an unemployed and depressed young man who travels with his wife and newborn child from the States to his native Kibbutz in Israel to ask his dad for a favor, and ends up embarking on a cross-country road trip with him.

“Decompression” was one of the six Israeli projects pitched at various stages of production during the two day lab which wrapped July 9.

Meanwhile, Gonzalo Tobal’s Argentinan drama “Dolores,” one of the five international projects presented at Sam Spiegel Lab, won the second prize of $20,000 from the Beracha Foundation.

“Dolores,” produced by Benjamin Domenech, turns on a beautiful young student whose life gets shattered after her best friend gets brutally murdered, leaving her as the prime suspect for the crime. Tobal described the film as a mix of crime story, legal drama and family drama.

Margarita Linton-Blakalav’s “Life is Anywhere Else” was awarded a special mention from the Jury. Inspired by Linton-Blakalav’s youth, the project follows a 16-year old girl living in a gated Jewish settlement surrounded by a Palestinian enclave, who longs to escape and transcend her identity. Estee Yacov- Mecklberg is producing.

Chaired by Idzak, the Sam Spiegel jury comprised Charles Tesson, topper of Cannes’ Critics’ Week, Kirsten Niehuus, head of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Katriel Schory, head of Israel Film Fund, Hengameh Panahi, president of Celluloid Dreams, Eric Lagesse, president of Pyramide Films and Roberto Olla, exec director of Eurimages as well as Carole Scotta, co-founder and producer at Haut et Court.

The Sam Spiegel Lab was founded by Renen Schorr and is co-headed by Ifat Tubi. The industry event is associated with the prestigious Sam Spiegel Film School and has had a strong track record in five edition.

About 75% of all films pitched at the Lab have been shot and premiered at key festivals, including Laszlo Nemes’s “Son of Saul,” which won this year’s foreign-language Oscar.

Speaking to Variety, Tubi said the selection of scripts presented during the Lab underscored the talent and skills of Israel’s young generation of filmmakers. Tubi also noted Israeli directors were increasingly interested in depicting character-driven, personal stories that don’t necessarily have a political resonance or address the Israel-Palestine conflict in an obvious way.

Jersualem Film Festival kicked off July 7 with a tribute to Quentin Tarantino, followed by a screening of Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta.”

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