Sunday, July 08, 2007

Jerusalem International Film Festival

"I think you're some kind of Genie" my friend said to me after we had taken our seats at Sultan's Pool outside the old city walls of Jerusalem, which had been turned into a makeshift giant outdoor movie theater for the Jerusalem International Film Festival opening. This was not a drive-in, mind you, but a sit-in for several thousand of us.

It seemed whatever I wanted or asked for that day, voicing it to her, got given to us. Like getting free tickets to the sold-out film festival opening, which featured the animated film "Ratatouille". I had stood at one of the entrances to the place and simply asked passers-bye if they had any extra tickets. I do it every year. This year, some off-duty cops gave us their extras, which were complementary. I called my friend that afternoon, telling her that last year, it got terribly cold and sweaters weren't enough. Could she please bring a blanket. She didn't have anything light to bring and I hoped for the best. But when we got in, the cellphone company, Orange, were giving out free blankets.

"OK - if that's how it's gonna be for us tonight, then the gates of heaven are open. What do you want?"

"A normal man for me to marry with a good job" was her wish. I wish her wish was my command. We'll see in 6 months if I have genie power.

Too bad I had that Carlsberg because even though the movie was fun, liquor and I don't mix well and I felt myself dozing off a few minutes at a time during the middle of the movie.

No big name US/European screen stars or directors were there. Last year Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger showed up. This year? Nada.

My friend and I continued our tradition of spending a bit of Friday and all day Saturday pasted to the Cinemateque seats.

I saw: Citizen Nawi - a movie about a gay Israeli man, Ezra Nawi, who had a Palestinian partner, who lives in West Jerusalem. He is a tireless activitist for Palestinian human rights, working mostly in the South Hebron hills, who speaks fluent Arabic and is there for their every need - whether it's to get an ambulance over to their village, whether it's to try and stop house demolitions, whether it's to help build a medical clinic in the poor town of Twane, or to escort children to their school, because of settler harrassment. He also faces constant police harrassment in his neighborhood.

I don't know Ezra personally but I have gone olive picking a number of times and he was there. I remember one frightening moment, near the settlement of Avigail in South Hebron hills, where the settlers pointed guns at us. We were only going to help Palestinians plow the land, not invade their settlement. A soldier followed behind Nawi as he walked away from the now-swelling crowd and followed him for a good 7 minute walk across the hills, where Ezra simply took a whiz against a wall. We all saw this and had a great laugh. His sense of humor showed throughout the film.

Saturday I saw Yoga, Inc. - a documentary about how commercial Yoga has become. The funniest moment was the interview of the head Fuck Yoga, Inc, who started his company when his wife was just going to Yoga, morning, noon and night. And he just said - Fuck this. Fuck Yoga.

"They walk around with their yoga mats, like it's a fucking goddam Torah"

His Fuck Yoga t-shirts and bottled water and slippers and god-knows-what-else are selling like hotcakes.

The movie - The Good German - was showed afterwards. A good black&white Hollywood mystery, set in post-world war II Berlin.

DEUX JOURS A PARIS was the next film starring Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg. I don't think there was a minute in that film where I wasn't laughing my ass off. An American in Paris could be really frickin' funny.

For a more serious movie - RED WITHOUT BLUE - a documentary about male identical twins growing up in Montana and the difficulties they faced. Talk about challenges. Outwardly they looked like your typical white, Christian, American apple pie family. But as they years went on - one turned out to be gay, and the other changed his gender.

The last one we saw that day was "Killer of Sheep", a film made in 1977 by Charles Burnett but only released now because of music rights difficulties. It was a slow-moving film, but it was an interesting insight to an African-American slum and the people who live inside it - specifically the Watts section of Los Angeles. The music was great and I would have loved to have bought the soundtrack - but I don't think there'll be a soundtrack.

My kids and Hubby would have rathered I'd have been home all day with them, listening to them complain all day, instead of enjoying myself. Tough decision.


Anne said...

Sounds like a great time! I am so horribly jealous...

Vernon said...

My EX and I spent the usual 10 day christian tour in Israel in 1999.
I'd love to return every year and, among other things, attend the film festival.