The Israel Film Festival continues through November 14 with an impressive flowering of talent–seven narrative features, eight documentaries, and nine television entries that cover an ambitious range of subjects, from the intimate to the global. All movies are primarily in Hebrew with subtitles and screen at Pipers Alley; tickets are $9.25, $6.50 for students, seniors, and children under 12. For more information call 877-966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com/iff04, which has a full festival schedule.
Stars drive the movies in Tel Aviv as much as they do in Hollywood, so it’s no surprise that Moshe Ivgy (Campfire) has a leading role in two festival films. He’s an amusing curmudgeon in Amit Leor’s frenetic digital-video comedy Cafe Tales (2002, 87 min.), playing a grizzled poet who schemes to save his favorite dive from creditors and his weirdo cronies from each other. (Mon 11/8 and Wed 11/10, 9:45) In Michal Bat-Adam’s so-so seriocomic Life Is Life (2003, 87 min.), he’s charming as a writer whose extramarital flings provide inspiration, until his affair with a troubled married student (Yael Abecassis) forces him to deal with his midlife angst. (Sun 11/7, 9:45 PM, and Tue 11/9, 7:30 PM)
The stunningly beautiful Abecassis also has a pivotal cameo as a passenger on a hijacked airline in Miss Entebbe (2003, 80 min.), a somber low-budget drama set in 1976 Jerusalem and directed by Omri Levy. Neighbor children respond to the breaking news by kidnapping a Palestinian handyman’s son. (Sun 11/7, 3:15 PM)
The title of the goofy, sexy comedy Colombian Love (2003, 96 min.) refers to both the weed and the South American shiksa spinning the twentysomething narrator off course. His best pals are a married soldier who’s uptight about starting a family and a newlywed who’s browbeaten by his tradition-bound father (Shmil Ben Ari). The changing-partners formula is well-worn, but director Shay Kanot keeps the action moving so fast one hardly notices. (Sat 11/6 and Thur 11/11, 9:45 PM)
Work is the problem for the title character of Henry’s Dream (2003, 106 min.), a psychological drama directed by Eitan Green about a family man stuck in a low-level film-school job. Menashe Noy plays Henry, a former film pro who walked away from the business after the death of his first wife. The script’s deliberate pacing reflects the slow process of healing, as he and a student crew collaborate on a microbudget movie. (Sat 11/6, 5:15 PM)
The death of the kibbutz movement’s socialist dream is at the core of Isaac Zepel Yeshurun’s No Longer 17 (2003, 96 min.), a multilayered sequel to his 1982 feature Noa at 17. Onetime fiery individualist Noa (Dalya Shimko) is a middle-aged widow living abroad; when she and her headstrong teenage daughter return to the family kibbutz they get embroiled in a messy conflict as elderly residents are being forced out. (Sun 11/7, 7:30 PM, and Tue 11/9, 9:45 PM)
Naftaly Gliksberg’s trenchant hour-long video documentary Columbia: The Tragic Loss examines the events leading up to the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia, which claimed the lives of seven astronauts, including Israeli Ilan Ramon. The movie shares a bill with one of the festival’s top finds, Oriental (46 min.), the nonfiction debut of Avi Nesher (Turn Left at the End of the World). Nesher drew on his experience serving in the army under Ehud Barak to get access to the former prime minister, who revisits the failed 2000 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Running parallel to interviews with Barak and other delegates who were at Camp David is a contemporary showdown between a Russian-Israeli belly dancer and the Arab musicians she’s hired for a concert performance. (Mon 11/8, 5:15 PM)