Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jerusalem Film Festival

I don't know how many years I've been doing this, but it's been years. The same friend and I start off by seeing the open-air opening flick on Thursday night at Sultan's Pool and then spend the weekend together - all Friday/Saturday together, then we see separate movies during the week, and compare notes.

Thursday's opening movie was called "A Matter of Size", an Israeli movie about overweight men who are frustrated with their weight loss groups and find themselves happily reinvented as Sumo Wrestlers, getting the respect they want, instead of the scorn and ridicule they experienced before. It was a comedy-drama, which we both enjoyed.

We could have done without the speeches before the film was screened. It seems that the speeches are getting longer each year. I think we suffered through 1 1/2 hours of speeches, but never mind. Also, every year there were fireworks, and this year there wasn't. Looks like the Cinemateque in toning down on expenses this year.

Friday I saw a Yiddish film called Bar Mitzvah, with Boris Thomashefsky. I vaguely remember my folks talking about his films. It was nostalgic - a world no longer, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Yiddish. I even learned a few new words, like "he's talking gibberish" - "gibberish" was "katchke loshon" (duck talk). I thought the wicked second wife resembled Madonna and Boris resembled a bearded Robert DeNiro.

Kanchivaram was the other film I saw about Indian silk weavers in the 1940s. Interesting to learn about the culture between the feudal system - the wealthy "lord" and his poor workers, and touching story about how a man stole silk threads over years in order to make his daughter a silk wedding dress, as he promised at her birth.

Saturday I saw Paraiso Travel, a Colombian movie about two illegal immigrants in New York City. Also very good. The director, Simon Brand was there and spoke a bit at the beginning (and end?), and I thought he looks young enough to be my son. How depressing.

After we saw a Thai movie called Nymph - very slow moving, and it reminded me a bit of the Blair Witch project. Same feel.

The last movie I saw that day was Young at Heart - one of my favorites at the festival - about seniors in their 70s-90s singing punk rock, hard rock, pop and doing it so well. I laughed at the scenes of the videos they did - Staying Alive, I Wanna Be Sedated, Road to Nowhere. Moving film. I wish the chorus would come to Israel. I'd definitely go see them.

Sunday I saw Dancing with Tears in Our Eyes about the history of the nighclub scene in Israel. When you're tired and there are no English subtitles and it's a late was a bit of a strain, as I kept falling asleep in my chair. Not that the chair was so comfortable, but I had hoped for more footage instead of all the interviews.

Tuesday, I saw Abu Ali about a Sufi director of the Acre Theater company who attempts to direct a play about the Third Temple.

Then a documentary on Sayed Kashua, which was also one of my favorites at the festival. He is also one of my favorite writers. Fortunately, one of my co-workers was able to introduce us because he lives in her building, and when I found that out, I asked for an intro. She introduced us before the film began and I was all like "isn't it worth being so aggravated for all the fame it's bringing you?" He smiled, shook my hand and then I told him after the show that - we're kindred spirits, we fit in nowhere, just like the Arabs believe he's a collaborator with Jews and Jews view him with suspicion, I often feel I'm in the same boat because I live in Maaleh Adumim and hold interfaith meetings. It's hard not fitting in, not being made of the same mold as the rest of your people. He told me that he feels sorry for me. My favorite writer feels sorry for me. I was so flattered getting sympathy from him.

I spoke to the director of his film at the after-party plus some of the actors/people involved with his show Arab Labor and the atmosphere was happy, easy-going, none of this kind of snobbishness one sometimes feels at these festivals.

Friday - the last two films I saw was a French Lebanese film - Melodrama Habibi, a pretty good film about a man who had one hit song many years back in Lebanon who came back from France to sing his song. The Khamsa - a very good French movie about a gypsy boy who is half gypsy, half Algerian and who wears his Khamsa necklace for good luck.

Until next year....

1 comment:

anne said...

Every year you talk about this and I'm always jealous. :) I went to JUC and went to the Cinemateque at least once a week if not more. Loved seeing the variety of films playing.