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Meir Fenigstein Founder/Executive Director of The Israel Film Festival

Meir Fenigstein Founder/Executive Director of The Israel Film Festival
Presents Award to Miri Ben-Ari at the Opening Nite Gala


December 9 - 18 2008


Over 25 New Israeli Feature Films and Documentaries to be screened at Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal 8 through December 18, 2008; Event follows successful Festivals in Los Angeles and New York during Israel's 60th Anniversary year


Miami,  Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari and Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, Ofer Bavly, were honored at the Opening Night Gala of the 23rd Israel Film Festival in Miami,    The Opening Night Gala and Premiere Presentation took  place Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.

Consul General Bavly rose to the ranks of Captain during his service in the Israel Defense Forces from 1983-1987.  He joined the Foreign Ministry of Israel in 1991 and has served at key diplomatic posts such as Madrid and Rome. In 2005, he was appointed Policy Advisor to the Foreign Minister of Israel, Mrs. Tzipi Livni.  In 2006, he was appointed Counselor of the Foreign Ministry's North America Division.  In August 2007, Mr. Ofer Bavly was appointed Consul General of Israel in Miami, Florida. 

Known as the world's greatest Hip-Hop violinist, Miri Ben-Ari, was honored as an "International Jewish Women To Watch of 2007,  and received the first Israeli Martin Luther King Award from Israeli President, Shimon Peres. She is the CEO and co-founder of Gedenk ("Remember"), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness among young people about the Jewish Holocaust. Her single "Symphony of Brotherhood", featuring the Dream speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is the first instrumental single ever to hit on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop charts, MTV and VH1.

A Grammy Award-Winning violinist originally from Israel, she has created her own unique sound by a revolutionary fusion of classical style with jazz, R&B and hip hop. She has been recognized as a musical pioneer. This classically trained musician has helped sell millions of records by collaborating with other Grammy award-winning artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Patti Labelle, Brandy, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and John Lege

The Festival's Opening Night Film followed the awards ceremony with the US premiere of Reshef Levy's Lost Islands.  The biggest Box Office success in Israel in 2008, this autobiographic drama is the winner of 4 2008 Israeli Academy Film Awards, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. The film centers on the large and unique Levi family.

Levi stresses the importance of fulfilling your dreams, while his wife preaches absolute family loyalty. When twin brothers, Erez and Ofer, fall in love with the same girl, they must choose between family loyalty and love. 

The Israel Film Festival runs Dec, 9-18, 2008 at Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal 8 in North Miami Beach, presenting over 25 new Israeli features, documentaries, TV dramas and award-winning student films. 

A portion of the proceeds from the 23rd IFF Opening Night Gala will provide scholarships to exceptional Israeli film students from six film schools in Israel including: The Sam Spiegel Film & T.V. School Jerusalem, Sapir Academic College Shderot, Ma'ale School of Television Film & Arts, Tel Aviv University- Film and Television Dept., Hamidrasha Biat Berl Collage and Tel Hai Communication Center for Cinema.

The Co-Chairs of the 2008 Israel Film Festival were Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, and Arnon Milchan, Owner/Founder, Regency Enterprises.

Following the success of the Festival in Los Angeles and New York, I anticipate our Miami Festival will follow suit.  I'm proud to be showing people the richness and humanity of Israeli life and culture, and the talent of our filmmakers.   We hope the Miami audience can once again join us in recognizing the great success of the Israeli film industry around the world, Fenigstein said.

With films ranging from cinéma vérité and comedies to thought-provoking, powerful dramas and documentaries, the Festival will highlight Israel's culturally rich landscape overflowing with filmmakers who have produced remarkable movies. The Israel Film Festival is one of the only film festivals that will visit three American cities - Los Angeles, New York and Miami. The 23rd IFF opened in Los Angeles June 11 - 26, and was a huge success.  Among the Festival's L.A. Honorees were Kirk Douglas, Jeff Berg and Carl & Rob Reiner.  The Festival continued in New York, October 29 - November 13 where Danny DeVito, Irwin Winkler and Edward Zwick were honored, and concludes in Miami, December 9 - 18, 2008.



ALTALENA Director: Eli Cohen- A dramatized version of the tragedy of the ship Altalena, in which 960 new immigrants, most of them Holocausts survivors, were caught in the middle of a conflict that most could not even believe possible.  The film deals with the uncompromising struggle between David Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin, over the distribution of weapons, the disbandment of the paramilitary organizations, and the character of opposition in a democratic state.  Had it not been for this rivalry, perhaps the tragic end of the episode could have been avoided. 77 minutes

THE DEBT Director: Assaf Bernstein-When an article appears in a small central European?s local newspaper saying that THE SURGON OF TREBLINCA, a Nazi monster who captured and held prisoner by Rachel Brener and 2 other young Mossad agents in 1965, and had been thought to have committed suicide before trial, is actually alive and willing to admit all of his crimes, these 3 agents find themselves in a threatening situation. Now 30 years later, the 60-something ex- agents must cover their asses, and eliminate him before the truth of what really happened and how the Surgeon escaped comes out. 93 minutes.

FATHER?S FOOTSTEPS Director: Marco Carmel- In the early 70's, Felix, Mireille and their children move from Israel to the working-class Parisian neighborhood of Belleville where Felix meets Serve, a local gang leader who leads Felix down the path of organized crime and eventually into the position of gang leader after Serves arrest. The shame pushes Mireille to tell the children that their father has gone back to Israel to join the army. Tensions cause Michael, Felix's son to follow in her father's violent footsteps and it is up to Mireille to hold her family together and protect them from themselves. 90 minutes.

THE GALILEE ESKIMOS Director: Jonathan Paz- The evening prior to the arrival of the bailiffs at a bankrupted Kibbutz, the great exodus begins and all the people gather their possessions and abandon their homes. The contractor hired by the bank arrives at the kibbutz astonished to find these abandoned old-timers who after struggling, later begin to organize and rebuild the kibbutz. A film about the latent power revealed when senior citizens are abandoned, betrayed, and left to determine their own fate. 99 minutes.

NOODLE Director: Ayelet Menahemi - At thirty-seven, Miri is a twice-widowed, El Al flight attendant. Her well-regulated existence is suddenly turned upside down by an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been summarily deported from Israel. The film is a touching comic-drama in which two human beings -- as different from each other as Tel Aviv is from Beijing -- accompany each other on a remarkable journey, one that takes them both back to a meaningful life. 95minutes.

THE LITTLE TRAITOR Director: Lynn Roth- Palestine 1947. Proffy Liebowitz, a militant yet sensitive twelve year old wants nothing more than for the occupying British to get the hell out of his land. Proffy and his two friends are always plotting ways to terrorize the British until one evening, while he?s out after curfew, Proffy is seized by Sergeant Dunlop, a British officer. Instead of arresting him, he escorts him back home but what ensues in the weeks to come is a friendship between these two foes. 83 minutes.

LOST ISLANDS Director: Reshef Levy- The biggest Box Office success in Israel in 2008, the autobiographic drama centers around the large and unique Levi family. Mr. Levi stresses the importance of fulfilling your dreams, while his wife preaches absolute family loyalty. When twin brothers, Erez and Ofer, fall in love with the same girl, they must choose between family loyalty and love. 103 minutes

OUT OF THE BLUE Director: Igal Burstyn- Shabtia and Herzel drive through the streets of Tel Aviv buying and selling used furniture and trash. In Shabtai's dreams he makes love to a seductive red-haired women, whom he discovers really exists after seeing her picture in a face-cream advertisement. Although he sends out to find her, it is Herzel who first wins her heart, even though he loves Batya. A comedy about abortive loves and the friendship that survives them. 92 minutes

RESTLESS  Director: Amos Kollek- Moshe was a moderately successful poet in Israel who never got the recognition he felt he deserved. After his son was born, he left for New York, never looking back. 20 years later his life has hit rock bottom. Tzach is a handsome young solider in an elite unit of the Israeli army who always lives on the edge. After his mother's death, Tzach finds his father's address and decides to contact him. A film about father and son, and the elusive quest for redemption.  100 minutes.

THE SECRETS  Director: Avi Nesher- The Secrets presents the complexities of a religious lifestyle within the context of youth, rebellion and desire. Naomi postpones marriage to the prodigy of her ultra orthodox rabbi father to study at a Jewish seminary for women in the ancient Kabalistic seat of Safed following her mother's death. Her quest for individuality takes a defiant turn when she befriends a free-spirited but headstrong fellow student. Their unlikely alliance is jeopardized by a mysterious older woman Anouk, a terminally ill tortured soul shunned by the community for her crime of passion. Together, they attempt to purge her sins through a series of secret rituals. 120 minutes.


CHILDERN OF THE SUN  Director: Ran Tal-The much talked-about winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, Children of the Sun is an unconventional history of the kibbutz movement that inspired so many of the original settlers in the Holy Land. Director Ran Tal, who himself grew up on a kibbutz, turns to other members of his generation, using their words and home movies to reveal a thoroughly fascinating, conflicted, and authentic portrait of a disappearing world. 70 minutes.

BEN GURION REMEMBERS Director: Simon Hasera October 6, 1973 saw the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, what followed the very next day was the release of  Ben-Gurion Remembers.  Eclipsed by the war, this documentary has remained forgotten for 35 years. The original poster for the film exclaimed: How a 5000 year-old promise from God became a 25 year old   As Israel celebrates its 60th year of existence, the world has the opportunity to once again watch the history of a nation as it is told by Ben-Gurion, surrounded by his family and colleagues including Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan.

BRIDGE OVER THE WADI  Director: Tomer Heymann & Barak Heymann- For the first time in Israel, a group of Arab and Jewish parents decide to establish a conjoint bi-national, bi-lingual school inside an Arab village. The film follows the school's first year and portrays through the personal stories of its characters, how complicated and fragile is the attempt to create an environment of co-existence against the backdrop of the complicated reality surrounding it.

DANCING ALFONSO  Director: Barak Heymann-  Alfonso is the lead dancer in a flamenco troupe that rehearses in a Tel Aviv suburb. The average age of the group-members is over 75. After the death of his wife, Alfonso begins to obsessively court Sima, a dancer with the troupe. His children displeased, and unwilling to accept the fact that their father might be interested in another woman. "Dancing Alfonso" provides its viewers with a novel and unfamiliar portrait of the inner world of older people, and with a fresh look at our endless, but ever hopeful, search for someone to love.

OUT OF FOCUS  Director: Tomer Heymann-  For the first time, Ohad Naharin (Bat Sheva Dance Company) agrees for his creative work process to be observed and documented.  The film follows Naharin's work with the dancers of the modern dance company Cedar Lake at their studio in New York.  During the shooting we are exposed to Naharin's complex character and his ideological objection to the documentation of his work. The film is the result of the unique encounter between cinema and dance.

IT KINDA SCARES ME Director: Tomer Heymann-  This is the tale of Tomer, the director, and his social and personal odyssey from the typical Tel Aviv scene of the Coffee-house he manages, to the small town of Azur, where he works as a Youth Group counselor. Over a period of two years with the group, Tomer records the finer moments and those less fine, all of which seem beautiful in his able hands. Events that express the sense of estrangement, the other Israel, and violence, all take on a different meaning in the course of staging an original play at the local theatre. And so as the kids open up to Tomer, their confusion and chaotic inner world is revealed, and questions of their social and sexual identities are raised. As they open up, so must he.

THE QUEST FOR THE MISSING PIECE Director: Oded Lotan- A young Jewish gay man living in Tel Aviv with his German partner pieces together the story of his own bris while reflecting on the complex role his sexuality and time abroad has played in shaping his Israeli identity.

Presented as a gently humorous fairy tale bridging the gap between tradition and modernity, the film sheds light on feelings toward the male-circumcision ritual, fear of exclusion and the need to belong. 52 minutes.

THE TRUE STORY OF PALESTINE Director: Joel Silberg- The True Story Of Palestine features the work of numerous Israeli-entertainment legends, with excerpts from hundreds of hours of film shot by Nathan Axelrod, who documents the building of a Jewish state in Palestine. Haim Topol reads Haim Hefer's narration. 80 minutes.

WAITING FOR GODIK  Director: Ari Davidovich- Nominated for the 2007 Jerusalem Film Festival's Best Documentary award, this intimate look at the rise and fall of legendary producer and impresario Giora Godik examines the Israeli King of Musicals' quest to bring the American dream to Tel Aviv. That vision ended when Godik unexpectedly fled to Germany on the eve of his last premiere and ended up selling hotdogs for a living at the central railway station in Frankfurt. The film glimpses into the gap between glittering lights and a life in the shadows, bringing to life the story of a man who believed that life was a musical. 60 minutes.

YOU NEVER KNOW Director: Boaz Shahak - Shlomo Carlebach was a brilliant young torah scholar sent by the Lubavitcher rebbe to deliver scripture to hippies in the San Francisco Bay Area. When his love for flower power crossed the boundaries of Jewish law, the Orthodox establishment shunned him.  Carlebach, who once boasted about having composed 4,000 original melodies, died penniless but his music still fills concert halls and his followers live in nearly every Jewish community.


SRUGIM (US Premiere) Director: Eliezer (Laizy) Shapiro - A new social class of well-educated singles in their thirties is rising up in Jerusalem. They haven?t found their place in the existing religious framework and what was supposed to be a temporary pre-marriage existence has become rather permanent.  With a religious upbringing that did not prepare them for single adulthood, these young adults work to create normal lives within the constraints of religion and tradition while seeking warmth and love.

Over the past 23 years, the Israel Film Festival has brought hundreds of films to the United States and has introduced Israel's finest film talents to American audiences. Prior honorees of the festival include Danny DeVito, Irwin Winkler, Kirk Douglas, Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner, Edward Zwick, Jeffrey Berg, Menahem Golan, Sasha Baron Cohen, Amy Pascal, Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, Bernie Brillstein, Milos Forman, Michael Fuchs, Amos Gitai, Adam Greenberg, Gale Anne Hurd, Norman Jewison, Larry King, David Linde, Sidney Lumet, Penny Marshall, Mike Medavoy, Arnon Milchen, Tom Rothman, James Schamus, Elie Wiesel and Laura Ziskin.  Presenters include Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Leiv Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Adam Sandler Rachel Weisz, Kelly Preston, Bette Midler, Garry Marshall, Ashley Judd, Cameron Diaz, Isabella Rosellini, Gil Cates, Mort Zuckerman, Arthur Hiller and Peter Chernin, to name a few.

To purchase tickets for screenings and events or for further information, please call 1-877-966-5566 or visit Tickets are available for advance purchase online starting December 1st.  Ticket prices are: $11.00 for general admission, $9.00 for senior citizens (62 and older), children (under 12) and students with proper ID. Weekday matinees (shows before 6:00 p.m.) are $9.00 for all filmgoers. A Festival Pass (buy five, get one free) is available for $55.00 (restrictions apply vouchers must be exchanged at the box office a half-hour prior to showtime and are not available for sold-out screenings). Tickets for Opening Night Awards Gala, Screening and Reception are $75.00.

The Israel Film Festival is presented by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) created in 1982, in association with the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The Festival, celebrating its 23rd year, is the second oldest film festival in Southern California. The Festival has been responsible for introducing Israeli life and culture to American audiences through the powerful medium of film, providing a comprehensive intercultural exchange and has brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the United States to share their art. Through the years, more than 900,000 filmgoers have experienced the best of Israeli cinema by showcasing more than 800 feature films, documentaries, television dramas, short films and student shorts. 

This year's Sponsors include Nu Image / Millennium Films, Cheryl & Haim Saban and the Saban Family Foundation, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, EL AL Israel Airlines, Harbrew Imports, Israel Film Fund, Israel National Lottery for the Arts, New York Post, Time Warner Cable, Israel Tourist Ministry, Israel Finance Ministry, Aya International, Charles Group Hotels, Isram Realty Group, Panavision, Paramount Vantage, HBO, Park Avenue Funding, The Schecter Foundation, Bank Leumi USA, Caesarea Golf Club, Maurice Marciano Family Foundation, Guess Foundation, New Regency Productions, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety, among others.

For further information regarding the 23rd Israel Film Festival, including ticket, group sales and/or sponsorship information, please call 1-877-966-5566 or visit



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