Israeli Film Festival Screens in Ottawa June 4-14

Dancing Arabs opens the Israeli Film Fest on June 4.
Did you catch Hunting Elephants at The ByTowne recently and wonder where you can see more films like that? Well, luck may have it that Hunting Elephants actually screened in town last year at the Israeli Film Festival, which returns to Ottawa in June. The 2015 Israeli Film Festival, put on by the Canadian Film Institute, marks the 12th edition of the festival and runs June 4-14 at the River Building.

This year’s festival might doesn’t feature a repeat appearance from Patrick Stewart, but it does include four Ottawa premieres of acclaimed and award-winning Israeli films.  The festival opens with the drama Dancing Arabs by Eran Riklis, the acclaimed director of Lemon Tree, The Syrian Bride, and Zaytoun. Dancing Arabs comes to Ottawa after screening at a range of International festivals including Locarno and Telluride. Variety’s Jay Weissberg called it Riklis’s best film in years, while Boyd Van Hoeji of The HollywoodReporter gives top marks to the performances, ideas of cultural identity and historical legacy, and range of flawed characters who confront their own place in the world.

Other films screening at this year’s Israeli Film Fest include the Apples from the Desert starring Reymonde Amsellam from The Attack, Lebanon, and Rendition, and The Dove Flyer, which is based on the book by Eli Amir. Doc fans will want to catch Above and Beyond, which is the first-ever doc about pilots who came to Israel from abroad to fight in the War of Independence.  The film’s been earning some strong reviews on the circuit with Sheri Linden of the LA Times calling it “indispensable.” It’s probably a safe bet for the fest, since the lone doc Farewell, Herr Schwartz easily holds the title of “best of the fest” for last year.

The line-up for the 2015 Israeli Film Festival is as follows

Dancing Arabs

Dir. Eran Riklis  | Israel | 2014 | 105 min
Thursday, June 4, 2015, 7:00 pm

Synopsis: A Palestinian-Israeli boy named Eyad is sent to a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem, where he struggles with issues of language, culture, and identity.

Apples from the Desert

Dir. Arik Lubetzky, Matt Harari | Israel | 2014 | 87 min
Sunday, June 7, 2015, 7:00 pm

Synopsis: Rebecca Abarnabel, a single daughter born into an Orthodox Jewish family, is tired of the lifestyle that her father, Reuven, has forced upon her. She and her mother, Victoria, go on a life-changing journey between worlds.

Above and Beyond

Dir. Roberta Grossman | Israel/U.S.A  | 2015 | 90 min
Thursday, June 11, 2015, 7:00 pm,

Synopsis: In 1948, a group of World War II pilots volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. As members of 'Machal' -- volunteers from abroad -- this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war, preventing the possible annihilation of Israel at the very moment of its birth; they also laid the groundwork for the Israeli Air Force. Above and Beyond is their story.

The Dove Flyer

Dir. Nissim Dayan | Israel | 2014 | 108 min
Sunday, June 14, 2015, 7:00 pm,

Synopsis: Based on a novel by Eli Amir, Dove tells the story of one of the most ancient Jewish community in the world: the Jewish community of Iraq. Most of the Iraqi Jews living in Baghdad in the 1950s did not want to leave the land where they and their ancestors had lived for thousands of years. Against this background, the coming-of-age tale of 16 year old Kabi is told. Kabi and his family face an uncertain future, as do all Jews living in Baghdad. Each member of Kabi’s circle has a different dream: his mother wants to return to the Muslim quarter where she felt safer; his father wants to emigrate to young state of Israel; Salim, his headmaster, wants Arabs and Jews to be equal, and Abu just wants to care for his adored doves.

The Israeli Film Festival runs June 4-14, 2015.
All screenings and events are located in the River Building Theatre, Carleton University.

(Friendly reminder that there's free parking across the street at Brewer Park!)

Please visit the CFI’s website for the full LAFF line-up, plus information on showtimes, tickets, and memberships.