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SERET: The Film Fest Is Back

SERET/Hana Drori-Kashi (05/05/2017)

SERET film festival is back after six years of international success. This is what to expect from the 11th to the 18th in London

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The Israeli Film Festival SERET was born six years ago at the initiative of three women - Patty Hochmann, Anat Koren and Odelia Haroush.

For the first three years the festival took place in London, but has since taken the show on the road in to Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. When Haroush left the UK for the Netherlands, she brought the news to Amsterdam, Maastricht and Utrecht. Two years ago Hochmann, the artistic director of the festival born in Chile, led the initiative to bring Israeli cinema to her native country, where the festival was a huge success.

In 2016, SERET also reached Berlin, a city with a vibrant film industry and art, and now the founders aim to hold the festival in other European cities.

"Two years ago, one of the viewers told me after a screening of a documentary film: "Im not Jewish or Israeli, and I came out shocked by this film, which showed me a side that I did not know about in your country,"" Hochmann recalls. “This is exactly our goal, not only to show excellent cinema, but also to tell viewers what a wonderful country we have. All the crazy work about producing the festival is worth the investment in my eyes, if a film can change what people think about us in the world.”

According to Hochmann, the aim of the festival is to show the quality of the film and television industry in Israel, where there is room for every person and opinion. "We choose the best films made in the past year, which have won international awards at festivals all over the world, including in London, France Brazil, Russia and even Iran, and are worthy of representing our country in all its forms.”

And what about films that show our less tolerant side? I make it difficult.

"We are not the Information Ministry. We are just three women who love cinema, love Israel and want to show its artistic activity, because very few Israeli films come to general public screening "

Female power, authentic Jerusalem folklore and excellent acting.

From Einat Sarouf to Richard Gere

The festival will open this year with a gala dinner and with supporters at the boutique hotel Ham Yard in Soho, which boasts a new screening room.

The premiere film, "The Womens Balcony" will be screened in Israel and will be visited by many guests: Einat Sarouf and Orna Banai (who star in the film), Eran Kolirin (Beyond the Mountains and Hills) Bat Hen Sabag and Shai Kapon (creators of the series "Dumb") and more.

The plot of the opening film, which will be screened three more times during the festival, takes place in the Bukharim neighborhood of Jerusalem and was inspired by the story of the family of Shlomit Nehama, the screenwriter. This is a comedy drama that features strong women, authentic Jerusalem folklore and excellent acting as it tells of a group of women who are fighting for their place in the community.

The festival will also feature the film "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer", a film that has drawn reviews from the New York Times and others, starring Lior Ashkenazi (who will also be present at the festival) and Richard Gere.

This is a film by director Joseph Cedar, one of the leading Israeli directors and screenwriters, whose films "Beaufort" and "Footnote" were nominated for an Oscar in the category of "Best Foreign Film." Cedar is a relative of Moshe Talansky, whose testimony helped send Ehud Olmert to jail, and this incident seems to be the inspiration for the script. However, Norman not really a political film as much as it is a touching human drama with a surprising ending.

A touching human story with a surprising ending. Norman. Photo: Niko Tavernise, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The plot follows Norman Oppenheimer, a Jewish macher, whose office is the New York streets. It is here where he conducts his affairs using a mobile phone. He gives his business card to people he believes he can use, and he boasts of his "associates," who are typically oblivious to the fact.

One day, he meets a junior minister in the Israeli government named Micha Eshel, who is at a low point in his life. In order to encourage him, Norman buys him a pair of luxury shoes - an act that turns out to be quite problematic when Eshel becomes prime minister. Norman is played by Richard Gere – a role unlike his arc of characters on the big screen, from "Officer and Gentleman" to "Beautiful Woman" to "Chicago".

According to Lior Ashkenazi, who plays Eshel, someone has predicted that Gere will win an Oscar for this role.

In an interview with ALondon, Ashkenazi reveals that he is not a fan of politicians. "I tried to talk to a few MKs who, in my opinion, conformed to Micha"s profile, but none of them was willing to cooperate," Ashkenazi says. "When I realized I was going to work with one of the icons of the movie world, I was moved, pressed and hysterical. (Gere) is one of the greatest stars in the world. Our first encounter was actually when we started working, and within a minute or two, immediately after the introductions and excitement, I found myself facing an actor like me: together trying to break the relationship between these two characters.

“In fact, we only share two scenes, but the chemistry between us works, so it looks like were spending the whole length of the movie together. Richard is charming and is full of giving, and I hope that we will work together (again). "

Ashkenazi notes that the film was well-received in the United States in the heat and the media wrote about it regularly: "To shoot a movie in America in English, with such a glorious list of stars, was a unique experience. The conditions are excellent compared to our low-budget industry in Israel, and after 22 years of a career in acting and advertising in Israel, it was fun to walk around the streets of Manhattan anonymously, without anyone asking me to do a ‘selfi’. “But," he smiles, "Ill tell you a secret: I took the shoes with me at the end of the production. It is impossible to describe how comfortable these shoes are. It is reasonable to assume that without the film, I would not have come to buy them because of the price. "

A touching human story with a surprising ending. Norman. Photo: Niko Tavernise, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

What else to see at the festival?

The festival gives a place of honor to the films by Israeli artists who feature interesting female characters. These are just three of them:

"Sand Storm" is a powerful family drama by director Elite Zexer, who won many prizes and was sent to represent Israel in the last Academy Awards. The plot depicts the story of two Bedouin women, a mother and daughter, who have been experiencing a shake-up in their personal lives regarding the difficulty of surviving in Bedouin society, in which they succumb to the demands of the conservative and patriarchal tradition.

"Between the Worlds," by Maya Hatab deals with issues of faith, truth and acceptance, when two women from different worlds meet in a hospital a moment after an attack in Jerusalem.

One woman is the religious mother of a young man who returned to religion and the other is his Arab partner. "What led me to write the script is my private story," says Hatab, who is already working on her next project, which deals with reincarnation and the Druze community.

Hatab, who is also coming to the festival, is an intriguing director who comes from a religious-nationalist background. After the screening, she will answer the audience"s questions.

Rama Burshtein is another ultra-Orthodox artist who comes from a world of Torah and faith. Her new film, "Through the Wall," is an exciting, brilliant and delightful romantic comedy that won three Ophir Awards.

This is the story of Michal, 32, who returned to religion 12 years ago and has not yet married. After finding a bridegroom, she cancels the wedding about a month before the desired date. Michal refuses to devote herself to despair and disappointment and decides, despite everything, to continue preparing and sticking to her original plan: "I have a hall, I have a dress, it’s a really small task for God to find me a groom."

* The festival will take place on 11-18 / 5 and will take place in cinemas in London, Richmond, Bradford, and the Trafford Center in Manchester:


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