Less politics, but no less heavy

It’s been 26 years since the Israel Film Festival first premiered, shocking and enlightening the world in equal parts with subversive and political cinema. After the bumper edition for last year’s 25th anniversary milestone, the festival is dialing things back with a short and sweet line-up of five films over at The Projector.

Naturally, the duration of the festival has been trimmed too, and will take place over six days from Aug 29-Sep 2. The festival opens and closes with Longing, a black comedy following a middle-aged bachelor who suddenly learns he has a 20-year-old son from his past, and must now navigate this new crossroad. Directed by Savi Gabizon after a 14-year-hiatus, the film earned 12 Academy Award nominations, as well as the 2017 Israeli Academy Award for Best Screenplay; it also features a wicked score with Hans Zimmer for Inception-type feels.

Following it immediately is a deep, dark court drama—The Testament is Israeli historian Dr. Yoel Halberstam’s one-man race against the clock to find a Holocaust-era mass grave; when digging up bones, he unearths skeletons in his own family’s closet.

If you like animation, bookmark film number 3. The award-winning Waltz with Bashir is essentially its director Ari Folman’s autobiographical documentary of the 1982 Lebanon War, strung together in a series of captivating visuals that span his hazy memories as a soldier, to striking scenes of everyday life in Beirut. Drama thriller Shelter will unravel the espionage behind a seemingly innocent witness protection program, where Lebanese Informant Mona and Mossad agent-cum-babysitter Naomi butt heads pretty excitingly.

Waltz with Bashir

Finally, wrapping up the festival is The Cakemaker, an Israeli-German drama film that dives unapologetically into a love triangle between two men and a woman—but not in the way you’ve come to expect. Berlin baker Thomas enters into a passionate affair with Israeli married man Oren; when Oren dies in a tragic car accident, Thomas travels to Jerusalem in search of answers about his brief lover. Under a false persona, he takes a job at the cafe of Oren’s widow, and becomes embroiled in heartbreaking complications.

The 26th Israel Film Festival will take place Aug 29-Sep 2 at The Projector. Tickets and timetables here, and more information here.