The 16th annual Israeli Film Festival, taking place at the Ottawa Art Gallery Theatre between June 6 and 27, highlights transitions including the cultural shock of aliyah, becoming religious or leaving Orthodoxy, and a woman entering the business world.
The festival opens Thursday, June 6, 7 pm, with director Avi Nesher’s “The Other Story.” Yonatan, a wunderkind psychologist living in the U.S. and mired in a lawsuit, is called back to Jerusalem to wrest his estranged daughter from the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle she and her fiancé have adopted as a refuge from their druggy, pop music former lives. In counterpoint, Yonatan’s father, also a psychologist, asks him to mediate a child custody dispute related to a formerly Orthodox mother’s worship of a Canaanite fertility goddess.
In director Joseph Madmony’s “Redemption,” to be screened Sunday, June 16, 4 pm, Menachem, lead singer in a formerly popular rock band has been a Chasid for 15 years. To provide expensive experimental cancer treatments for his six-year-old daughter, he connects with his former band to gig together for Orthodox weddings.
Two films will be shown on Sunday, June 23.
Ethiopian-Israeli writer-director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian relies on her memories of emigrating from Ethiopia in “Fig Tree” – to be screened at 4 pm – a love story set in 1989 amid the chaos and brutality of the ongoing civil war there. While her family prepared to leave for Israel, 16-year-old Mina strives to protect her soulmate Eli, who is in hiding in the forest to avoid conscription into the army. Though their families live together, Eli is Christian and not included in the aliyah.
In director Roman Shumunov’s “Here and Now” – to be screened at 7 pm – Andrey, a Russian immigrant living in a poor neighbourhood in Ashdod forms a hip-hop band with his three best friends as they struggle in low-paying jobs. Andrey’s father, has been hospitalized for months, leaving Andrey responsible for mortgage payments and the care of his little sister. In this precarious situation, the good choices attenuate.
The festival concludes Thursday, June 27, 7 pm, with director Michael Aviad’s “Working Woman,” a timely exposition of the #MeToo movement. Orna, a mother of three returning to the work force, is hired by her former army commander, a luxury real estate developer. Orna is a natural. She knows what foreign buyers want and speaks English and French. She can do everything except deal with her boss’s increasingly overt sexual advances. But she needs the job to support her husband’s fledgling restaurant and her family. Liron Ben Shlush as Orna provides a complex performance of stress, shame, honesty and that unique Israeli psychological buoyancy which propels the nation forward.
All films have English subtitles.
The Israeli Film Festival is held in the Ottawa Art Gallery theatre at 2 Daly Avenue and is sponsored by the Canadian Film Institute, the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC), the Vered Israel Cultural and Educational Program, the Embassy of Israel, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and the Canada Israel Cultural Foundation.
Tickets are available at the door before each film at $13 for the general public and $9 for SJCC members, Canadian Film Institute members, seniors, and students.
For more information, contact Ella Dagan at email@example.com or 613-798-9818, ext. 243.