Saturday, July 16, 2011

Film Festival

The summer heat is on and I am back at the annual Jerusalem Film Festival.  It's not Cannes, but for Israel it's the closest thing.  I'm sitting at the Cinemateque having a bulgarit cheese sandwich with pesto and basil at the kiosk inside and am watching cameramen and photographers chase people I don't recognize.  I don't care that I don't recognize local celebs.  I'm more interested in watching the elegantly dressed people.  It's a fashion show here and a joy for a people-watcher like myself. 

I didn't buy as many tickets as I did last year.  I'm on a tighter budget this year.  I took my son to the opening film Super 8, at the beautiful open-air Sultan's Pool, getting us free tickets by asking people at the gate if they had any extra tickets.  Usually many complimentary tickets are given out to groups, like the police force, and not everyone goes.  My son was highly embarrassed watching me grovel for tickets and moved several meters away from me as I did my thing.  He gave me a dirty look from where he was sitting and called me on my cell.

"I'm leaving soon.  You are embarrassing me!"

"Stick around son.  I've been doing this for years.  It takes me about 1/2 an hour, but I always get tickets."

He hung up on me and sure enough, a few minutes later, I got us two free tickets.

I phoned him back.

"Happy?  The guy doesn't even know us, so what is there to be embarrassed about?" I told my boy, as he didn't want to go in at the same time as our benefactor.

I appeased him by buying him stir fried noodles at the food stands inside.  There was free popcorn too.  As last year, they cut down on the pre-screening entertainment - no bands, no singers, no fireworks, just speeches for an hour.  I warned my son about this.  I had to, or he wouldn't wait for the movie to begin.   I enjoyed the Spielberg-produced movie about youngsters filming a train crash and the action/suspense resulting from it and I think my son did so too, although he would have preferred to watch Scream 10 on the giant screen.

Saturday I hitched into Jerusalem for my traditional day at the film festival and saw Sing Your Song about the life of Harry Belafonte.  The woman sitting next to me apologized to me in case she happens to sing along to his tunes off-key.

Now Harry B. has got to be the handsomest 84 year old man I have ever seen in my life!  Not only that, but I never knew what a wonderful civil rights activist he was until now and what a guy.  The early documentary  footage was excellent. How scandalous it was with him holding hands with white women in the 50s and 60s.

I remember when living in Toronto that we had invited his niece who was a "Belfont" who was an Orthodox Jew (I guess his brother converted to Judaism) to our home for Shabbat lunch or dinner which ended when she and her friend called my husband an "asshole" and walked out of our home. So I was curious to know more about Harry.  After the film an older woman remarked to a guy selling subscriptions to the financial paper, theMarker, what a wonderful movie it was.  As if he gave a fuck.  He just wants to sell his papers.  I did find the film inspiring and I told her so.  She looks at me, a stranger talking to her, as if I'm the crazy one..

Then I saw a film - If Not Us, Who? - an interesting German film about the early life of the German terrorists from the Baader-Meinhoff gang, focusing on Baader in the latter part of the film.

The third film Archipelago, was a tiring, boring British film.  One of my friends enjoyed it, the others, including me, thought it was torture to sit through.  "You don't understand the British" my friend who liked the film told me...."they're like this."  Not my British friends.  They're more the Monty Python or rocker types.

I saw Blagues a Part - a French filmmaker wanders throughout Palestine looking for Palestinian humor.  Also an enjoyable documentary.  

The last film I saw was The Way Back.  I thought it was excellent, beautifully filmed -  about escaped prisoners from Siberia making their way through Siberia, to Mongolia, through the Gobi desert, to China, to Tibet towards India.  A must-see for history/travel buffs. 

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