Guy Nattiv’s Mabul (The Flood) won the Israeli Feature Film Competition at the International Haifa Film Festival 2010. The prize was awarded at the closing ceremonies held on Thursday, September 30. Mabul was screened at the festival on Wednesday night, and the response of the audience to this moving film was an event in itself. The applause went on and on, and as people slowly left the theatre and stepped out to the cinematheque plaza, you could tell who had just seen Mabul by the look in their eyes.
Ironically, the film’s director, Guy Nattiv was not able to attend the screening. Having just finished working on the final version of the film with cinematographer Phillippe Lavalette, who was awarded the prize for cinematography for his work on Mabul, Nattiv’s arrival in Israel was delayed due to a storm in Canada. He did make it in time to attend the ceremony, and among others, thanked his co-writer on the screenplay Noa Berman-Hertzberg. Nattiv and Berman-Herzberg first met as film students at Camera Obscura and worked together on the short student film that, ten years later, became Mabul.
Weaving together the Biblical story of Noah, with themes of relationships – in the family, and society, the film follows Yoni in the days leading up to his Bar Mitzvah ceremony as his family struggles with the sudden return of Tomer, Yoni’s older, severely autistic brother. Yoav Rothman was recognized for his performance as Yoni by the FEDEORA Competition.
A new competition at the festival, FEDEORA (the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean) was founded in May 2010 in Cannes, and its members are individual professional film critics from European and Mediterranean countries. FEDEORA awarded two prizes at the Haifa Film Festival: one for Filmmakers of Tomorrow which was awarded to the Norwegian film A Somewhat Gentle Man by Hans Petter Moland, and one for a Significant Artistic Contribution to Israeli Cinema awarded to Yoav Rothman for his “rare and emotionally moving talent” as expressed in his portrayal of Yoni in Mabul.
Ronit Elkabetz, who was awarded an achievement award for her contribution to Israeli cinema by the Haifa Film Festival, was Yoni’s mother Miri in Mabul, and Michael Moshonov who played Tomer, won the Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role.
Pnina Blayer, Artistic Director of the Haifa International Film Festival opened yesterday’s closing ceremonies with the announcement of two exciting new projects. The Haifa/US Film Initiative will award a grant to filmmakers with a completed script who will be selected from the pitching forum, Our Story, which takes place during the festival. Blayer invited the program’s sponsor, Stephen Greenwald of G & H Media LLC to join her on the stage for the launching. Greenwald said that he is “pleased to sponsor par of the effort to tie the American market to Israeli cinema for a closer, mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship.” Greenwald’s connection to the festival began when he met Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav at a party in Tel Aviv and was invited to attend last year’s festival. The current project started cooking two months ago over a breakfast meeting in New York with Ruth Lev Ari. Greenwald said that this initiative “fulfills my own dreams” saying “Hollywood is reaching out to work with more countries and we’re going to bring them here to Israel.” The first award will be granted in 2011.
This year’s festival hosted the first Haifa Israeli CineMarket, directed by Ruth Lev Ari and produced by Gitit Wainer. The Geyer Award by CinePostProduction for services in the amoung of 25,000 Euro is awarded to a work in progress. CineMarket Director Ruth Lev Ari with producer Gitit Wainer organized the screening program which took place at the Dan Panorama Hotel and Beit Hecht during the festival and included a showcase of new Israeli cinema in addition to screenings of works in progress. The prize was announced by Stefan Müller, Managing Director CinePostproduction GmbH, who recalled his first visit to Israel when Katriel Schory, Director of the Israel Film Fund showed him around the country, a tour that was the beginning of a working relationship that now includes 30 Israeli films, saying “Thank you for the friendship.” The award was granted to It’s Never Too Late, written and directed by Ido Fluk and produced by Gal Greenspan Green Productions.
Orna Porat won the award for Best Actress for her charismatic and forceful portrayal of the mother in Eitan Zur’s Naomi. Best Actor went to Mark Ivanir, for his lead in The Human Resources Manager, the film that won Best Feature at the Ophir Awards on September 21, 2010.
The Hangman, directed by Netalie Braun with co-director Avigail Sperber shared the award for Best Documentary with Artur Yakobov and Sharon Atias’ In the Third Person. The Human Turbine by Danny Verete won the Other Israel Award for Documentary Film.
Dusk by Alon Zingman was awarded Best Feature Debut. Dani Menkin’s debut feature film Je t’aime I Love You Terminal received the Israel Film Center Distribution Award.
In the Short Film Competition, Ester Siton won for I’m Ready, with the prize for short documentary awarded to Igor Brogovsky and Genrietta Patik Brogovsky for One Movie for the Two of Us. The Animation Award went to Yoav Brill for Ishihara and Liron Hadad and Rotem Aaron won the Gesher Multicultural Film Animation Award for Third Person.
Reha Erdem’s Kosmos, won the Golden Anchor Award for the best film from Mediterranean countries, the judges noting its “brave idiosyncratic cinematic language”. In addition, TV5 Monde awarded a distribution award for the film Honey by Semih Kaplanoglu. Two other films received an honorable mention: the documentary Shout by Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Ester Gould, and La Nostra Vita by Daniel Luchetti.
The prize for Best Television Drama, in memory of filmmaker Sharon Amrani, was awarded to Chametz, a film by Alon Levi, the judges noting that it “forms the foundation for a promising full-length feature film.”