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2012 Cannes Predictions: 3 Possibilities from Israel

In recent years, Israeli cinema has been having an affair with the biggest film festivals in the world, and in particular, the Cannes Film Festival. In 2007 it was the Cannes Film Festival who launched the international success of The Band’s Visit. In 2008, no one could understand how the amazing Waltz with Bashir left the Croisette without a single award. This ground breaking collaboration of documentary material and animation went on to become one of the five finalists of the Foreign Language Oscar. A year later, Ajami was launched in Cannes. This dazzling crime flic became another finalist at the Foreign Language Oscars the following year. And last year, Footnote won best script in Cannes, and a few weeks ago it was, again, one of the five finalists at the Foreign Language Oscars (SPC released Footnote in theaters last month). So it is only fair to ask: what films have a legitimate shot at being included at the fest this year? Here are a few possibilities:

Single Plus – Dover Kosashvili

In 2001, an unknown director called Dover Kosashvili screened in Cannes his debut feature, Late Marriage. The film went on to become an international success. Since then, Kosashvili hasn’t managed to recreate the magic. In 2004 he directed the funny, but messy Gift from Heaven, and six years later he came up with Infiltration, an adaptation of a novel by the same name. In between he directed Duel, an adaptation of Chekhov. Now he’s back, again with original material (not an adaptation), telling of a 34 year-old bachelorette heavily pressured by her mother to get married and have kids. The mother will try to manipulate her daughter into marriage, but the daughter will have some tricks of her own. And although it doesn’t look that way, Kosashvili promised that this will be extremely funny. Could this be the vehicle that will get Kosashvili back on track?

Hajar (AKA The Heritage) Hiam Abbas

Hajar (AKA The Heritage) – Hiam Abbas

Hiam Abbas is known to the international viewer as a very impressive actress. She did an extraordinary job as the leading actress in Eran Riklis’ Lemon Tree, and she even had parts in Jim Jarmusch’s last outing (The Limits of Control), and in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor. Hajar will mark Abbas’ first gig as a director. This will tell the story of a Palestinian family living in a village near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Near the patriarch’s deathbed the sons will fight over the heritage, while the youngest daughter (named Hajar) will fight her own battle – her right to choose the man she will marry, even if he is a stranger to the community.  Abbas’ time and career is spent in Israel and abroad, mostly based in France, so I guess the Cannes Film Festival would be glad to host her debut.

Fill the Void – Rama Burstein

Look out for this one (see production pic at the top of the article). This is supposed to be the unknown who will sweep everyone off their feet. The religious community in Israel is a closed one. Not much is known about it, and the little we know is communicated to us via secular eyes (you might remember a film called Ushpizin, a folkloristic tale directed by a secular director). Fill the Void is directed by someone from within the religious community. And not only that – the director is a woman, and the film will tell of the problems women have within this very much men controlled world. The main character is a 19 year-old girl, who’s destined to marry a yeshiva man in an arranged wedding. She’s actually quite excited about the marriage, but then disaster strikes: Her older sister dies giving birth to her second child. When the mourning period is over, the grieving husband is planning to remarry a widow and move to Belgium. To prevent from him and her grandkids to move abroad, the mother conspires to marry off the younger daughter with the widower. This deeply moving tale of women in the closed religious world will bring unique voices to the bring screen. Director of Photography is Asaf Sudri, who also filmed Atash (Thirst).

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