Jerusalem Film Festival 2017: Awards

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Scaffolding/Photo: Vered Adir

Scaffolding by Matan Yair, won the Robert Nissim Haggiag award for best Israeli Feature Film, as well as Best Actor for Asher Lax, and an honorable mention for Bartosz Bieniek  for Best Cinematography.  The film is inspired by Yair’s personal experiences, teaching literature in high school to students from predominantly working-class backgrounds. Addressing the audience at the film’s premiere in Jerusalem, Yair spoke of his hope that literature would inspire his students, and his fear that these high school years would be the last time they picked up a book or read a poem.

Scaffolding focuses on Asher Lax, a student just on the brink of graduating, about to take the matriculation exams that are the prerequisite for receiving a high school diploma in Israel. After school, he works in his father’s construction company, and that is where, with or without a high school diploma, his future lies. This film is a healing balm, an inspiration, a warning, and a reminder for all teachers who have ever wondered whether they are getting through to their students, is anyone listening, and will anyone remember any part of what has been said in the classroom? Into Asher’s life comes Rami (Ami Smolartchik), a teacher who not only cares, but strives to be honest with his students. Rami represents a perspective on life that is different from anything Asher has ever encountered. Asher is torn between trying to fulfill the expectations and demands of his father Milo (Jacob Cohen), the only role model he has known, and his curiosity about another way of life, one in which it is possible to ask questions, to think for oneself. Marked by excellent performances (the students in the film are all portrayed by non-actors), Scaffolding depicts classroom life, and the experiences of students from working class homes with honesty, a gaze that is neither demonizing nor over-sentimental.

Scaffolding is produced by Gal Greenspan, Roi Kurland, Stanisław Dziedzic, Moshe Edery, and Leon Edery, and held its world premiere in Cannes’ ACID Selection.  The jury members were: ELLE producer Saïd Ben Saïd, Yael Bartana, Agnès Godard and Cíntia Gíl. Their statement on awarding Best Feature to Scaffolding: “For a film that combines the reality of a group of teenagers and the will of questioning cinema and the role of filmmaking. For its capacity of capturing the tenderness sometimes behind these kids’ violence, their capacity for love, their surprising imagination, in a society that places them in a marginal role forever.”

The full list of Jerusalem Film Festival 2017 Awards:

International Competition

The Wilf Family Foundation Award, in the sum of 20,000 USD: On the Beach at Night Alone by Hong Sang-soo; Jury Motivation: “Using the simplest of cinematic tools, Hong Sang-soo creates a mysterious magic, rooted in the heart of daily life. Love, hatred, affection, rage, sexuality, loneliness and deep pain are reflected in the face and body of a young woman, the main character, one of the deepest descriptions of a human being we’ve seen in cinema in recent years.”

Honorary Mentions: Western by Valeska Grisebach; A Man of Integrity by Mohammad Rasoulof

International First Features Competition

The FIPRESCI Award for Best International First Feature: Tehran Taboo by Ali Soozandeh; Jury Motivation: “Tehran Taboo is an important film while still remaining entertaining. It brings us into a corrupt and unequal society, and gives every character a chance to exist without judgement and in an uplifting tone.”

In the Spirit of Freedom Competition in Memory of Wim van Leer

The Cummings Award for Best Feature Film: The Other Side of Hope by Aki Kaurismäki; Jury Motivation: “A film that masterfully uses humor to tackle a harsh reality, showing that one person’s act of kindness could make a difference.”

The Ostrovsky Family Fund Award for Best Documentary: City of Ghosts by Matthew Heineman; Jury Motivation: “A harrowing film about a group of young Syrians struggling to shed light on the horrors happening in their home town at great personal risk.”

Honorary Mention: The Venerable W. by Barbet Schroeder

The Haggiag Competition for Full-Length Israeli Feature Films

The Robert Nissim Haggiag Award for Best Feature Film, in the sum of 100,000 ILS: Scaffolding directed by Matan Yair and produced by Gal Greenspan, Roi Kurland, Stanisław Dziedzic, Moshe Edery, Leon Edery; Jury Motivation: “For a film that combines the reality of a group of teenagers and the will of questioning cinema and the role of filmmaking. For its capacity of capturing the tenderness sometimes behind these kids’ violence, their capacity for love, their surprising imagination, in a society that places them in a marginal role forever.”

The Anat Pirchi Award for Best First Film: Doubtful by Eliran Elya

The Anat Pirchi Award for Best Script: Longing by Savi Gabizon

The Haggiag Award for Best Actor: Asher Lax for his performance in Scaffolding; Honorary Mention: Adar Hazazi for his performance in Doubtful

The Haggiag Award for Best Actress: Samira Saraya for her performance in Death of a Poetess

The Aaron Emanuel Award for Best Cinematography: Shai Goldman for Doubtful; Honorary Mention: Bartosz Bieniek for Scaffolding

The Jerusalem Foundation Award for Best Editing: Michal Openheim for The Cakemaker

The Jerusalem Foundation Award for Best Original Score: Daphna Keenan for Family

The Audience Favorite Award: Longing by Savi Gabizon

The FIPRESCI Award for Best Israeli First Feature:  Holy Air by Shady Srour; Jury Motivation: “Holy Air is a good crossover between comedy and drama about serious issues reflecting religious and political complexities in modern Israeli society.”

The Van Leer Competition for Full-Length Israeli Documentary Films

The Van Leer Award for Best Documentary: Conventional Sins by Anat Yuta Zuria, Shira Clara Winther

Van Leer Award for Best Director of a Documentary: In Her Footsteps by Rana Abu Fraiha

Honorary Mentions: Born in Deir Yassin by Neta Shoshani; A13901 by Tal Haim Yofee

The Israeli Short Films Competition

The Van Leer Award for Best Live Action Film: Portrait of my Family in my Thirteenth Year by Omri Dekel-Kadosh

The Van Leer Award for Best Documentary Film: Keren Or (A Ray of Light) by Lihi Sabag; Honorary Mention: The Bride’s Tree by Shadi Habib Allah

The Jerusalem Development Authority Award for Best Animated Film: Hadarim by Shlomi Yosef

The Israeli Video Art and Experimental Film Competition

The Lia van Leer Award, courtesy of Rivka Saker: Sleepers by Ruth Patir

The Ostrovsky Family Fund Award: Sham (There) by Thalia Hoffman

The Jewish Experience Awards – Courtesy of Michaela and Leon Constantiner

The Lia Award in honor of Lia van Leer for films dealing with Jewish heritage: The Cakemaker by Ofir Raul Graizer

The Avner Shalev – Yad Vashem Chairman’s Award for Artistic Achievement in Holocaust-related Film: 1945 by Ferenc Török