The Australian Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) Israeli Film Festival is launching a brand new initiative in 2016 for Israeli films and documentaries.
This year’s event will award $25,000, one of the more generous prizes on the Australia film landscape, to “the film or documentary that best encapsulates the spirit of Israel as a diverse nation with a vibrant and active democracy”, AICE said.
To be eligible for the prize, entries must have been produced less than 18 months before 1 January 2016 and be having their Australian premiere at the festival. Films must be at least 70 minutes in length and documentaries 55 minutes or more. Additionally, the producer of the film or documentary submitted should be an Israeli citizen, while co-productions between Israel and other countries can also be submitted.
Festival director Richard Moore said this year’s instalment of films and documentaries would showcase the real diversity of the Israeli film industry. “The competition has brought entries from leading Israeli sales agents and production houses and represents a real industry snapshot – romantic comedies, family dramas, spiced with a dash of horror, and some hard-hitting documentaries.”
A number of the films being shown at the festival have already received awards and accolades from top international film festivals including Jerusalem, Berlin, London and Tribeca, while several of the titles have been hotly pursued by major Australian festivals.
Harmonia, based on a story loosely adapted from the biblical story of Sarah, Hagar, Abraham, Yitzak and Ismail, premiered at this year’s Jerusalem Film festival, where it won two awards, while Who’s Gonna Love me Now?, the story of Saar, a man who was treated by his family like he didn’t exist anymore and banned from the settlement community for being gay, won this year’s Panorama Audience award at the Berlin Film Festival.
AICE founder Albert Dadon said the prize was established to assist in bringing independent Israeli films to an international audience and to continue the increasingly open dialogue between citizens of both countries.
“The competition continues AICE’s longstanding and ongoing commitment to highlighting the talent and creativity of the Israeli film industry, despite fierce competition from local festivals,” Dadon said.
The festival has assembled a world-class jury of cinema experts to judge the award: festival director Richard Moore has extensive experience in the Australian film industry, having worked as artistic director on the Melbourne and Brisbane international film festivals and as a former head of the ABC’s Arts division; Jan Epstein is a renowned film journalist who has been writing and broadcasting about film for nearly 30 years; Dr Dvir Abramovich is Director of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Melbourne and has taught a course on Israeli cinema; and Howard Rosenman has produced numerous film and television hits, including Father of the Bride, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has also acted in feature films such as Milk opposite Oscar winner Sean Penn.
The Israeli Film Festival runs from September 14–25 at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova and from September 15–25 at Sydney’s Ritz Cinema. See the AICE website for session times.
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