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World Film Report Israeli: Eran Kolirin’s The Exchange and Folman’s The Congress

There are a number of new projects by the more established filmmakers that are currently in the post-production phases, the most anticipated is perhaps The Band’s Visit’s Eran Kolirin, who is in the editing stages of The Exchange.


Israeli Film Scene: Local
The Israeli film scene appears to be in a hibernation mode right now. “Appears to be” – but isn’t necessarily. There is only one Israeli film in local theaters now – it is Phobidilia by the Paz brothers. Based on a book by Izhar Harlev, “Phobidilia” tells the story of a young man, once a high-tech genius, now an agoraphobic. After spending the last couple of years of his life inside his apartment, and never leaving it, he is faced with the biggest challenge ever: A young and beautiful girl enters his life, and his landlord wishes to evacuate him. Both destabilize his life, and tranquility is shattered.

“Phobidilia” (trailer) was first shown to Israeli Film Academy members last summer, and then it begun its’ festival tour taking on the majors (Toronto in 09′ and last February, Berlin). It’s an energetic film, with a “Run Lola Run” feel to it, beautiful work with the score, and two attractive leads known mostly for their TV soap work in stars Efrat Baumwald who isn’t quite on par with Ofer Shechter’s performance. Unfortunately the film failed to live up to its reputation and scored paltry box office numbers.

The next Israeli film scheduled to be released to local theaters is Jaffa this coming May. Such as “Phobidilia”, this was shown to Israeli Film Academy members last summer (after premiering in Cannes last year). Helmer Keren Yedaya (Camera D’Or winner in Cannes in 2004 for “Or”) was six months pregnant as those screenings took place. It is only now, after giving birth, that Yedaya is touring the country in a series of premiere screenings followed by Q & A. So far, the public response to the screenings has been quite good, but the critical reception hasn’t been as welcoming.

There are a number of new projects by the more established filmmakers that are currently in the post-production phases, the most anticipated is perhaps The Band’s Visit‘s Eran Kolirin, who is in the editing stages of The Exchange. Here’s a poetic rendering version of the film’s synopsis, which is still sort of unclear what the movie is actually about, but since most of the charm in Kolirin’s previous film was in the style, and character interactions, this is definitely a project that we’ll want to keep tabs and expect to see perhaps around the Venice Film Festival time of the year.

Joseph Cedar, a 2-time Israeli Academy award winner (for “Time of Favour” in 2000, and “Campfire” in 2004), and 2008 Oscar nominee for “Beaufort” is now shooting a new film entitled “Foot note“. The movie stars Lior Ashkenazi (“Late marriage”) and Shlomo Bar-Aba (an acclaimed actor, who works mainly in theater. He garnered a lot of praise in 80’s for playing in “Fiction marriage”). The story will revolve around two university professors competing for an award. They are also father and son.

Nir Bergman, who warmed everyone’s hearts in 2002 with Broken Wings, and has since worked in TV (among other things, he directed episodes of “In Treatment”), is now editing his new feature film, The Book of Inner Grammar, a film based on a book by David Grossman, and which reteams Bergman with his Broken Wings’ star Orly Zilbershatz-Banai. The movie tells the story of a 10 year-old who suddenly stops growing. Ever since his breakout 2002 film, Bergman has proven to be an extremely sensitive director, you can tell this by the tone and selection of his projects. The Book of Inner Grammer is one of the most anticipated projects this year in Israeli cinema.

Eran Ricklis (“Lemon Tree“, “The Syrian Bride“) is currently in the editing room, putting the finishing touches to his new project, The Mission of the Human Resource Manager. Based on a book by A.B. Joshua, this follows the journey of the human resources manager in a big bakery in Jerusalem, tracking the identity of a woman who died in a suicide attack.

Israeli Film Scene: International

Ari Folman is still working on his new project, “The Congress“, an adaptation of a novel by Stanilaw Lem (first images from that intriguing project, starring Robin Wright, can be viewed above or check out the aged Robin Wright still at the very top of the page. The animated “classic” sci-fi project is based on Stanislaw Lem’s story The Futurological Congress. Meanwhile, his previous film, the ground breaking “Waltz with Bashir”, is still picking up awards. A couple of weeks ago, the critics association in Denmark granted Folman the Bodil award for best non-American film. (The film winning the most Bodil awards this year was Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist”. See the full list of winners).

Eithan Weitz is’s Israeli Film Correspondent.

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