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AICE ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL

Going to the cinema is like being transported to another world; it’s an opportunity to explore different cultures, to visit foreign countries, only without the hefty airfares attached.

Melbourne and Sydney have long been spoilt for choice with everything from French, Italian, Russian Resurrection, German, Korean, and countless other well established and well attended film festivals frequenting their local cinemas. This year these two major cities celebrate the tenth anniversary of the AICE Israeli Film Festival. Meanwhile, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide host the festival for their second year, and, further expanding its reach, the festival proudly opens for the first time in Canberra and Byron Bay.

The festival first kicked off in Sydney on Tuesday, then Melbourne on Wednesday with Canberra and Adelaide next in line before Perth and Byron Bay open next week. At Melbourne’s Cinema Como, Michael Danby (MP representative for Melbourne Ports) proudly declared, “Israeli film is in a golden period”, citing Lemon Tree (2008) and Waltz With Bashir (2008) amongst its most recent international break out successes. With a program featuring films screened at big name international festivals like Berlin, Venice, Toronto and Tribeca, the question is, will the 2013 line-up feature the next Israeli arthouse sensation?

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The Ballad of the Weeping Spring

The festival’s opening night film, with further screenings in Melbourne and Sydney, is The Ballad of the Weeping Spring. Much like the films of Tony Gatlif (Gadjo Dilo, 1997, Transylvania 2006), The Ballad of the Weeping Spring is a road movie about celebrating community through music. Amram’s father has one dying wish: to see his unsung symphony performed. Collecting a band of unlikely musical misfits with tears and laugher along the way, Amram sets about staging the intimate concert for his father. A sweet road movie with all the appropriate highs and lows, this film is at its best when it showcases the astonishing musical talents of its leads.

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Inch’allah

Winner of the FIPRESCI international film critics’ prize at the Berlin International Film Festival is the Australian premiere of Inch’allah. Chloe is a Canadian doctor working at a UN refugee clinic in Ramallah, treating young pregnant women. Living in Jerusalem, every day she must pass through the checkpoints. A foreigner in both places, Chloe makes friends on both sides of the conflict. Despite her finest efforts to ameliorate between the two, Chloe can’t help getting caught up in the cycle of violence.

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The Gatekeepers

But the film everyone is most likely to be talking about long after the festival and well into its theatrical release is The Gatekeepers. The controversial 2012 Oscar nominated documentary reveals previously state held secrets from the six surviving former heads of Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). Speaking up about their actions and decisions in creating a two-state solution, The Gatekeepers, packed with polemic, is sure to spark conversation. Director Dror Moreh will be present for a Q&A following the Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra screenings.

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Six Acts

Of course, The Gatekeepers won’t be the only film to get conversation started. Six Acts, a challenging questioning how much of a young woman’s engagement in sexual activities is consensual and how much is coercion is as bold as it is provocative. A major guest of the festival, actor and singer Sivan Levy, will also be in attendance for a Q&A followed by a live performance in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. I will be moderating the Melbourne Q&A Sunday August 18th, 1.15pm.

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Exodus

Closing the festival this year is Otto Preminger’s 1960 epic, Exodus. Based on the best-selling novel by Leon Uris, Exodus stars screen greats Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in a lengthy three and a half hour historical war drama about the founding of Israel. Big screen entertainment and adapted history lesson all at once; this year’s Israeli Film Festival is your ticket to another world.
For more information and session times visit the Palace website.

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