ISRAELI CINEMA IS HAVING A BIT OF A MOMENT Hitlist THE BEST FILM & DVD RELEASES*
✽✽ Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans Werner Herzog and Nic Cage get down and dirty with drugs and corruption in this remake of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 feature. See review, page 45. General release, Fri 21 May. ✽✽ Lebanon The 1982 Lebanon War revisited from the inside of a tank. Das Boot for landlubbers. See feature, left and review, page 44. GFT, Glasgow & Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 14 May. ✽✽ Vincere Italian melodrama about the extraordinary life and times of Mussolini’s secret first wife. See review, page 43. Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 14 May; GFT, Glasgow from Fri 21 May. ✽✽ Four Lions Chris Morris jests with the Jihadis. Out now, general release. ✽✽ Revanche Bleak but brilliant Austrian heist thriller Filmhouse, Edinburgh until Sun 16 May. ✽✽ Pandora and the Flying Dutchman Re-release of nutty 1951 seafaring romancer starring Ava Gardner and James Mason. See Also Released, page 45. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 14–Thu 20 May. ✽✽ Letter From An Unknown Woman Obsession revisited in new digital print of a 1948 masterpiece. GFT, Glasgow, Mon 17–Wed 19 May. ✽✽ Van Dieman’s Land Lyrical and brutal retelling of disastrous prison break. See review, page 55. Out Mon 24 May (High Fliers). ✽✽ World on a Wire Two-disc reissue of German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi TV thriller about virtual reality and big business. See review, page 55. Out Mon 17 May (Second Sight).
Kosher kino Awards; box office hits; orthodox homoerotica – Israeli cinema is hot at the moment. Perhaps Scotland could learn a thing or two? Paul Dale explains
T his week the third Israeli film about the 1982 Lebanon War to scoop a major award will be released in Scotland. Samuel Maoz’s tank interior-set Lebanon (pictured) scooped the Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Film Festival. Before that Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir snaffled a Golden Globe, and before that Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort took the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. All three films received development cash from the Israeli Film Fund, an organisation comparable to our own Scottish Screen, and were then financed through a complex web of private and personal investments and donations. So just to recap that’s three Israeli films about the same war celebrated on the international stage. Also out this week is Haim Tabakman’s intense queer love story Eyes Wide Open set in the ultra orthodox Jewish community of Jerusalem, and next month the Oscar-nominated Israeli box office hit Ajami reaches these shores. Refreshingly Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti’s film is not a war film but a neo-realist, multi-perspective portrayal of life in the neighbourhood of Jaffa, the Arab city that sits at the tail end of Tel Aviv.
On top of this, in January Israel’s oldest daily newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israel Film Fund had approved funds for seven full-length feature films, five of them by women directors. That these projects include features by gifted actress Hiam Abbass (Lemon Tree, The Visitor) and Eran Riklis, whose 1991 film Cup Final arguably spearheaded the Israeli new wave of filmmakers, is great news. To say that the state of
42 THE LIST 13–27 May 2010
Israel’s relatively youthful film industry (first features date back to the 1950s) is having a bit of a moment is something of an understatement. And so to a country with a greater land mass than Israel but with about two million less people in it. You have to go back a good 25 or so years to find a time when Scottish cinema enjoyed such a moment in the sun. As Thatcher ripped the country apart, the working class filmmakers of Scotland revolted. Bill Forsyth did the box office business with Gregory’s Girl and Local Hero, while major gods of the cinematic firmament – Bill Douglas (Comrades) and John, The Long Good Friday, Mackenzie among them – created an off-kilter and noticeable filmic diversity north of the border. But that was then, this is now and it feels like it’s been an age.
Next week Scottish Screen and Creative Scotland will send a small publicly funded delegation to Cannes to mill about and hold a drinks reception. It is, of course, important for the Scottish media to have visibility at such events but maybe a research trip to Tel Aviv would be a better use of resources. It was Jews, after all – Adolph Zukor and Harry Cohn among them – who invented Hollywood. Maybe they can do something for Holyrood.
Lebanon, GFT, Glasgow from Fri 14 May, see review, page 44. Eyes Wide Open, Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Mon 24 May, see review, page 45. Ajami, selected release from Fri 18 Jun.