YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Week Ahead

Israel Film Festival marks 19 years in L.A.

May 26, 2003|Robert W. Welkos

Meir Fenigstein said he never imagined that when he started the Israel Film Festival he'd still be at it nearly two decades later. But this week, the onetime rock singer is organizing his 19th festival in Los Angeles (along with stops in New York, Chicago and Miami), saying that he relishes the challenge of staging four festivals and is proud that Israel's Hebrew-language film and television industry has managed to thrive despite the almost daily drumbeat of violence in the region.

"When you do a festival every year, it's almost like it's done from scratch," Fenigstein said. "Filmmakers don't have money. The future is completely vague and you have to dream it up again and again. And doing it in four cities is very complicated."

Fenigstein said this year's festival, which includes 33 feature films, documentaries, television movies and student short films, focuses on two major themes: the Arab-Israeli conflict and women filmmakers.

The festival opens Wednesday evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills with a screening of director Keren Margalit's television drama "All I've Got," the story of a woman who, in death, has a choice of becoming young again without memories or remaining elderly and retaining the memories of her husband and children. Television talk show host Larry King and "Spider-Man" producer Laura Ziskin will be among those receiving awards that night.

Fenigstein said several films being screened at the festival deal with Arab-Israeli issues in a positive way, focusing on the day-to-day lives of Israelis and Palestinians despite political turmoil.

Perhaps the most controversial film of the festival is "Jenin Diary," a documentary about a suicide bombing that killed 29 Israelis and launched Israel's massive military invasion of the West Bank.

Another film, "In the 9th Month," is a mystery-romance about a man exiled from his village who returns after 10 years to reclaim his wife. It is by Arab-Israeli director Ali Nassar, who is flying in for the festival.

Others being screened are "Provence United," "A Trumpet in the Wadi," and a movie that played in the Directors Fortnight competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, "Mike Brant: Laisse Moi T'aimer" (Let Me Love You).

The festival, which runs through June 8, will screen films at the Laemmle Fairfax in Los Angeles and Laemmle's Town Center 5 in Encino.

Tickets are available at 877-966-5566 or at

Los Angeles Times Articles