Haifa Film Festival: the complete recommendation guide
The Haifa Film Festival will kick off with the scandalous film of the year, then present some of the best films screened in Cannes this year.
The recommendation guide for the event that proves that the Carmel is the right place to be right now
Monday, 03 October 2022, 00:00
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The trailer of the movie "Kirba" (A24)
This year more than ever, Haifa is the place to be.
Football fans have met Messi, Neymar and Mbappe there, and movie buffs will be able to watch some of the hottest movies of the year.
This will of course happen at the Haifa Film Festival, which, according to tradition, will take place during the upcoming Sukkot.
The festival will be kicked off by an Israeli premiere of "Don't worry my dear", which I already had the chance to see in America, and as they rightly wrote in the New York Times, it looks like a kind of combination of "Mad Men" and "Run away".
The film fueled the biggest movie scandal of the summer, because of the reports of what went on behind the scenes.
Director Olivier Wilde developed a hot affair with star Harry Styles, and clashed with his co-star - Florence Pugh.
On the one hand, one can understand why they chose to open the Haifa Festival: it is one of the talked about hits of the period, and an attractive marketing springboard that anyone can dream of.
On the other hand, after all the PR, there is also an audience that sits in front of the screen and has to watch the movie, and "Don't worry my dear" is a very bad movie.
Let's move on to the better films: we have already written about the Israeli menu of the festival, so here are some recommendations from the international menu.
The films that appear in this review come to Haifa from the Cannes Film Festival, where I watched them, and sometimes the recommendations are based on the reviews I published from the Riviera.
From "Don't worry my dear" (photo: Haifa Film Festival)
This is probably the hottest and most talked about film to be screened at the festival.
Lucas Donat's "Proximity" became the talk of the day on the Riviera right after its premiere at the last Cannes Film Festival, picking up the Grand Jury Prize - the event's second most important prize.
He was also chosen to represent Belgium at the upcoming Oscars in the international film category, and is considered a clear favorite to start the list of candidates.
Donat, who broke out with the controversial "Girl", this time presents a less controversial film - a story about a close friendship between two children, which is undermined by tragic circumstances.
The tragedy raises several questions: how do we as a society treat those who deviate from the norms, and how do we as individuals deal with grief and pain?
I will stop here.
Both in order not to reveal plot details and also because I wasn't as excited by the film as most of the world, and I have no ability to gush about it.
However, there is no doubt that it is a beautiful, interesting and worthy film, and it is also clear that it will be talked about a lot later this year,
The most talked about.
From "Kirba" (Photo: Haifa Film Festival)
If you ask me - if you should see only one film at the festival, which one, I answer - it's not a shame to see only one film, see more!
But if you insist, then this is my recommendation, the film of the festival.
"God's Land" made its debut at the last Cannes Film Festival, in the framework of "A Certain View" - the side frame of the official competition.
It is not clear to me why he came out of it without a prize, and how it is that he did not compete in the official competition itself in the first place.
It just proves that there is usually no logic in these frameworks and competitions.
"God's Land" is about a Danish priest who was sent to Iceland at the end of the 19th century to establish a church.
He is full of good intentions, and we all know where such intentions lead.
Both in terms of cinematic expression and in terms of theological depth, "Land of God" is reminiscent of a Bergman film.
If it had been released in the sixties, it would have been considered a masterpiece and an instant classic.
I wish there is a place for such masterpieces even nowadays.
The film was directed by Hilnor Flämsson, one of the great talents of Icelandic cinema - a small industry that, despite its size, manages to put itself on the map.
The Haifa Festival also screened the director's previous and excellent film, "Yom Laban Laban", and it's nice that they are careful to nurture it.
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On my time.
From "The Land of God" (Photo: Haifa Film Festival)
"The Worst" also had its premiere as part of "Matt Bessouman" at the last festival, but unlike "Eretz God" it came out with a prize - and what a prize!
It won the award for best film in this prestigious setting.
This is the first full-length feature film directed by Liz Akoka and Roman Gora, who previously worked in the field of casting.
Inspired by their experiences, they wrote the script for this drama.
It deals with the behind-the-scenes of a film that is shot in the province with young and unprofessional actors, who come from the fringes of society and were therefore nicknamed "the worst", but the production brings out the best in them.
The truth is, at first I didn't understand why the jury gave this film the prestigious award, but in retrospect I have an explanation.
In the perspective of four months, I can say that this movie has something.
He leaves a mark.
You can even say that he is unforgettable.
From "The Worst" (Photo: Haifa Film Festival)
The child from heaven
A film by a director who lives in Sweden, which takes place in Egypt, was filmed in Turkey and stars three Israeli-Palestinian actors, Tawfik Barhoum, Makram Khoury and Muhammad Bakri.
The film was directed by Tariq Saleh, who was born in Sweden to an Egyptian family, began his professional career in Scandinavia and recently directed the Hollywood thriller "Dangerous Contract", starring Chris Pine.
"Boy From Heaven" stars Barhum, who appeared, among others, in "Dancing Arabs" and "Wounded Land" made in Israel.
He plays a young Egyptian who is sent as a mole to Al-Azhar, the legendary, prestigious and independent Sunni university, which the government tries and fails to infiltrate.
The hero finds himself trapped between the government, the religious establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood, realizes that the power struggles between them may lead to a civil war, and discovers how fundamentally corrupt Egypt is.
Basically, it's a routine spy thriller, with all the conventions and plot holes typical of the genre (why would the bad guys just throw someone off the roof instead of giving a speech for half an hour until someone comes to save them).
The difference is in the context, and Saleh knows how to use the clichés of the genre to draw a fascinating portrait of contemporary Egypt, and also manages to add philosophical and theological depth to the film.
It is interesting to note that one of the clergy initially quotes the Jewish thinker Karl Marx, another illustration that our closeness to Egypt is spiritual and not just geographical.
between Israel and Egypt.
From "The Boy from Heaven" (Photo: Cannes Film Festival)
"Inside View" ("RMN")
Sometimes it seems that there is a competition at the Cannes Film Festival - which film conveys more deadly criticism about the country where it was made.
Israel did not participate in this game this year - Egypt, as mentioned above, and how so, and so did Romania thanks to "RMN".
The film was written and directed by Christian Mongiou, who a decade and a half ago won the Palme d'Or with "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days", undoubtedly one of the most significant films of the last two decades.
This time, he places the plot and his social conscience in Transylvania, where about twenty percent of the inhabitants are from the Hungarian ethnic minority.
The film has several intersecting plots, the main one of which describes how the local residents violently oppose the arrival of Asian migrant workers.
Mongio sharply and critically exposes the national racism, but sins himself - the foreigners in his film turn out to be the most secondary characters, and their existence in the script is mostly functional.
As usual, Mongio does his best to maximize the drama in every situation, and the film is worthy for other reasons as well.
It takes place in a very specific reality, but deals with a universal issue, which is relevant to Romania, Israel and almost everywhere else.
In his description of how the Hungarian minority, which itself suffered and suffers from persecution and discrimination, is the one who revolts in the most violent way against the new immigrants, "RMN" illustrates an ironic tragedy - more often than not, one disadvantaged group is the one who oppresses another disadvantaged group.
From Cannes to here.
From "View from the Inside" (Photo: Cannes Film Festival)
The Cannes Film Festival took place this year against the background of the war in Ukraine.
In a precedent-setting move, its managers forbade the presence of representatives from Russia, as long as they have ties to the government - businessmen, directors and even journalists.
The only notable Russian director at the Riviera was Kirill Srebernikov, a regular at Cannes, who competed in the official competition with "Tchaikovsky's Wife. His presence was made possible because he is a staunch anti-regime, spent time under house arrest and now lives in exile in Germany. He regularly speaks out against his government's policies - including at the press conference in Cannes.
Srebernikov's presence attracted interest mainly because of the circumstances, but his film is nonetheless worthy of the political context. "Tchaikovsky's Wife," as the name suggests, tells the story of Antonina Miliukova, whom the composer married solely to hide the Being gay, then made her miserable throughout her life until her tragic death.
It is a heavy and ornate film, theatrical and operatic and, in short, pretentious.
However, it is not without interest.
Through the period story, Serbarnikov deals with issues that, unfortunately, are still relevant today.
For example, the way society sanctifies geniuses like Tchaikovsky, and thanks to their art gives them a pass to behave in a sick way towards those around them.
The film deliberately does not use Tchaikovsky's music, but if you watch it, you will no longer be able to listen to it and enjoy it again like before.
The culture of cancellation.
From "Tchaikovsky's Wife" (Photo: Cannes Film Festival)
"Forever Young" ("Les Amandiers")
Like many of the films that were screened this year in Cannes and this year in Haifa, "Forever Young" is a semi-autobiographical film.
This time it's (roughly) the autobiography of director Valeria Bruni Tedsky.
Here she goes back to the 1980s, to her days as a young actress and starts at the acting studio of the Amandiers Theater under the leadership of the late Patrice Shero, one of the legendary figures in the history of the French stage world, played here by Louis Garrel.
Starring alongside him is Nadia Tarskievich, who starred two years ago in the Israeli series "Obsessed" and has since become one of the hottest actresses in France.
This drama follows the young men and women who are admitted to the studio after a strict screening, and as befits a French film, they jump between the beds of their friends and the classroom, with the new threat of the AIDS disease hovering in the background.
Broni Tedeschi photographs the personal and professional experiences of the dreamers in non-stop movement, which creates the feeling as if life has no end and in the first place no beginning.
All that is here is an endless desire - for love, for the stage, for freedom.
Whether you grew up in the eighties or not, this movie will make you miss them.
From "Forever Young" (Photo: Cannes Film Festival)
"The Blue Kaftan"
Following the warming of relations between the countries, the festival dedicates a special frame to Moroccan cinema.
It will screen modern classics as well as films from the recent period, including "The Blue Cap", one of the greatest Moroccan films of recent years, which was also successfully screened at the last Cannes Film Festival.
The film was directed by Miriam Tozani, who will also grace the screening with her presence.
As the name implies, it deals with a couple who run a shop selling kaftan.
The long-standing personal and professional cooperation is undermined when a young and attractive assistant joins the business.
To return to the starting point, I was not as enthusiastic about this film as most of the critics, who even gave it an award at the Cannes Film Festival.
However, it is certainly colorful and creative, and Touzani dares to engage with a taboo here - homosexuality in a traditional society.
In addition, unlike most festival hits these days, this is a film that seeks to win the hearts of the audience, move them, stir them and even make them dance.
In doing so, he reminds us of our "karaoke" and proves once again how close Morocco and Israel are.
It is easy to bet that the screening of "The Blue Captan" in Haifa will be a great success, and the audience will stamp their feet and clap their hands.
You should be there when it happens.
The festival will take place between October 8 and 17.
For more details, screening times and dates and to order tickets, see the official website.
Haifa Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival