Ottawa Israel film festival entertains, builds connections

The 20th edition of the Ottawa Israeli Film Festival hits the screen throughout the month of June at its new location, the Soloway JCC (SJCC).

More than just an opportunity to see award winning Israeli films, this annual event unites people of different backgrounds and political ideologies while helping Jewish audiences make meaningful connections to the State of Israel.

“From the start, the Ottawa Israeli Film Festival has been about much more than just showing movies,” says Ella Dagan, Vered Israel Cultural & Educational Centre Manager at the SJCC. “Our mandate is to bring entertaining and thought-provoking films to engage the Jewish community, while also providing an opportunity for the non-Jewish community to learn about Israeli history, culture and heritage in an open and welcoming environment.”

While the Israeli Film Festival has taken place at various venues across the city, it was decided that the 2023 festival would move to the Soloway JCC.

"As the central address of the Ottawa Jewish Community, the SJCC is the ideal location for the Israeli Film Festival. I've been suggesting that for years and finally now that we're past the pandemic mindset, the SJCC planning committee and our partners at the Israel Embassy felt this was a good time to make that change,” says SJCC President & COO, Barry Sohn. “The JCC is easily accessible with ample parking. Our social hall can accommodate over 200 people, and it's great to be able to host programs that enhance our Jewish mission."

The Israeli Film Festival is one of the central programming features of the Vered Israel Cultural & Educational Centre and is screening three award winning films this year, each of which showcase the diversity of Israeli culture and experience.

The Israeli Film Festival kicked off on Sunday, June 4, with Lior Ashkenazi’s “Perfect Strangers”, a comedy/drama about seven childhood friends who meet for dinner to watch a lunar eclipse. What starts out as a congenial evening takes an unexpected turn when they agree to share all their text messages leading to betrayal and secrets. 

On Sunday, June 18, “America” hits the screen. This drama is the follow-up to director Ofir Raul Graizer's

 acclaimed debut feature, “The Cakemaker,” which won the Ophir Award and has been sold for an American remake. Despite the title, “America,” is set mostly in Israel and tells the story of three people whose lives come together with great intensity for a brief period.

The festival wraps up on Thursday, June 22, with Israel’s biggest box office hit of the year, romantic comedy, “Matchmaking”, a Romeo-and-Juliet-like saga of two young, eligible ultra-Orthodox singles looking for a match. The film is directed by Erez Tadmor.


“This year the films don't have one common theme. Instead, the selected films showcase the diversity of Israeli culture and experience, they also speak to issues people of all backgrounds and experiences can relate,” explains Dagan.  “My choices of films are rooted in a belief that the Israeli film festival can play a role in breaking down negative stereotypes, altering perspectives, and building bridges of understanding with other cultural groups.”

All films begin at 7 pm and are in Hebrew with English subtitles.
Find more information on the films, watch the trailers and purchase tickets here