Art shows us who we are and what we believe, art reflects life back to us so we can see ourselves. Israeli films hold up a mirror to Israeli society said Jonathan Miller Consul General of Israel in Mumbai last week, while inaugurating an Israeli Film Festival with a screening of the film ‘The Matchmaker’ (2010) by Avi Nesher at the Mumbai Press Club.
Co-written and adapted for the screen by Nesher from the novel by Amir Gutfreund, the film stars Israeli A-listers Adir Miller, Maya Dagan, Tuval Shafir. The story is narrated in flashback by the writer Arik, who as teenage boy growing up in Haifa in 1968, gets a job working for Yankele Bride, a matchmaker. Yankele, a mysterious Holocaust survivor, has an office in back of a movie theatre that shows only love stories and Hindi films, run by a family of seven Romanian dwarves in a poor area by the docks. Yankele introduces Arik to a new world, built on the ruins of an old one.
As Arik begins to learn the mysteries of the human heart through his work with Yankele, he falls in love with Tamara, his friend Beni’s cousin. Tamara has just returned from America and is full of talk of women’s rights, free love and rock and roll. The disparate parts of Arik’s life collide in unexpected, often funny and very moving ways as he lives through a summer that changes him forever.
Avi Nesher’s film mixes comedy with drama as it tells a coming-of-age story.
The movie won the Silver Plaque award at the Chicago International Film Festival. It received seven nominations for Israel’s Ophir Awards in 2010, including Best Picture, where Adir Miller also won in the Best Actor category.
‘Footnote’ the second in the ongoing Israeli Film Festival saw the presence of Matan Zamir, Deputy Chief of Mission, Consulate General of Israel, Mumbai. The film is written and directed by Joseph Cedar and stars Shlomo Bar-Aba, Lior Ashkenazi, Aliza Rosen.
The story goes something like this: Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are both eccentric professors, who have dedicated their lives to their work in Talmudic Studies. The father, Eliezer, is a stubborn purist who fears the establishment and has never been recognised for his work. While his son, Uriel, is an up-and-coming star in the field, who appears to feed on accolades, endlessly seeking recognition.
Then one day, the tables turn. When Eliezer learns that he is to be awarded the Israel Prize, the most valuable honour for scholarship in the country, his vanity and desperate need for validation are exposed. His son Uriel, meanwhile, is thrilled to see his father’s achievements finally recognised but, in a darkly funny twist, is forced to choose between the advancement of his own career and his father’s.
The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Footnote won nine prizes at the 2011 Ophir Awards, becoming Israel’s entry for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2012, the film was named as one of the nine shortlisted entries for the Oscars and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Film.
Prior to the official inaugural, the Press Club screened Exodus (Director: Otto Preminger) which revolves around the theme of the founding of the state of Israel. Based on the novel by Uri Geller, the film stars Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson. Also screened earlier was the box office musical hit ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ (Director: Norman Jewison) a musical fable, both harsh and tender, it follows the life and times of a poor milkman Tevye (Topal) his family and neighbours, in the beleaguered village of Anatevka in Russia.