Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Arava International Film Festival will take place from November 3 – 13, 2021, with an exciting program of international and Israeli films. Connecting nature and culture, with films shown on a giant screen under the night sky, this year’s festival marks a return to in-person events, and hopefully also, to the participation of international guests at the festival. There’s a lot to look forward to!
Opening the festival with a smile and much affection for cinema, is the comedy Official Competition, which participated in the official competition at the 78th Venice Film Festival in September, 2021. Starring Penelope Cruz as a film director, with Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez as the actors in her film, Official Competition follows the process of the making of an art house film. Directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, with a screenplay written by Duprat, Cohn, and Andrés Duprat, Official Competition takes a look at the film industry from behind the scenes – the dreams, the glamour, and the egos. The film will be shown at the festival courtesy of Lev Cinema.
There will be several prominent international guests at the festival (pandemic conditions permitting) to present their films. The festival looks forward to hosting:
Michel Franco with his new film Sundown, starring Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsburg. Franco is known for his piercing observation of contemporary Mexico. In his film New Order, which won the Grand Jury prize at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020, working class protesters disrupt an upper-class wedding. After Lucia examines high school violence and bullying, and won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. In addition to Sundown, Franco will present the film La Caja (The Box), directed by Lorenzo Vigas (From Afar), which he produced; a coming-of-age story that engages with issues of family, survival and morality in Mexico.
Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen will present his film Compartment No. 6, which shared the 2021 Cannes Grand Prix with Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. Seidi Haarla stars Laura, a Finnish student who travels from Moscow to the far northern port city of Murmansk on an archeological quest, and must suffer through the long journey with her unlikely cabin companion, Ljoha (Yuriy Borisov), a loud and rowdy Russian miner who seems intent on drinking his way to Murmansk.
French director Laurent Cantet, known for his film The Class, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2008, presents Arthur Rambo, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Inspired by true events, the film follows the trajectory of a successful journalist, who is called out for tweets he posted as a teenager under the pseudonym Arthur Rambo. Rabah Nait Oufella, who was 16 years old when he performed in The Class, which will also be shown at the festival, stars as the journalist and author Karim D., whose past and present collide.
In the spirit of celebrating the Arava Film Festival’s first decade, on each of the festival’s ten days, there will be a screening of an episode from Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue, a 1988 Polish drama series which consists of ten one-hour films, offering a contemporary exploration of the Ten Commandments. The idea for the series was first conceived by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, who wrote it with Kieślowski. Together, this writing pair has scripted some of the most significant films in modern cinema: The Double Life of Véronique, and Three Colors (Blue, White, Red). The festival will host Piesiewicz, together with Irina Shalkovska, director of the serie’s production company. An exhibit by photographer Piotr Jaxa, who worked closely with Kieślowski, photographing the sets and locations of The Decalogue as well as The Double Life of Véronique, and Three Colors, will be on display in the new Ashush Gallery in Zuqim.
The timeless classic West Side Story (1961), directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, will be shown in a digital format. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the radiant Natalie Wood and fabulous Rita Moreno, Leonard Bernstein’s music and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics make this a film to be enjoyed over and over again. Recommended new films from 2021 to be shown at the festival include: Drive My Car, directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi; Paris, 13th District, directed by Jacques Audiard; Memoria, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and starring Tilda Swinton; Pedro Almodóvar’s The Human Voice – also starring Tilda Swinton; Intregalde, directed by Radu Muntean, and Lamb, directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson.
Closing the festival will be Eran Kolirin’s Let It Be Morning, which recently won the prestigious Ophir Award for Best Film. Based on the eponymous novel by Sayed Kashua, the film follows Sami (Bakri), whose life, at least from a distance, looks like a contemporary success story. He works in hi-tech and lives in Jerusalem with his beautiful wife Mira (Juna Sulieman) and young son Adam. The village where he grew up has long since been left far behind, and he hasn’t any interest in keeping in touch with old friends. Through the experiences of Sami and the people in the village, the film reflects the social and political currents, hierarchies, and dilemmas within the Israeli Palestinian community, with Israeli-Palestinian tensions ever present. Let It Be Morning shines with the outstanding performances of the ensemble cast, as Shai Goldman captured the human and natural landscape in all its hues and nuances, and Habib Shehadeh Hanna’s original music reflected the emotional terrain with vibrant beauty.
The full program, tickets and lodging information will be available on the Arava International Film Festival website: https://www.aravaff.co.il/en
The Arava International Film Festival is the initiative of producer Eyal Shiray in cooperation with the Central Arava Regional Council. The festival is supported by the Central Arava Regional Council, The Ministry of Culture and Sport Film Council, Mifal HaPais, The Ministry of Tourism, and the Foreign Ministry. The festival is produced and directed by Eyal and Tinker Shiray, and under the artistic direction of Edna and Dan Fainaru.