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  • Talma Gotteiner

The 36th Haifa Film Festival: An Online Celebration

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Hi there,

The Haifa Municipality and the Haifa International Film Festival ’s management have announced that in response to the nationwide lockdown to combat the surge of Covid-19 the festival will move entirely to an online format.

Haifa’s traditional film celebration will will be held in its usual timeframe of the Sukkot holiday in a special, online format that will include talks with some of the filmmakers via Zoom for the benefit of film lovers in Israel and abroad.

WHEN: October 3-10, 2020

The 36th Haifa Film Festival: An Online Celebration
Credit: From the film 'H is for Happiness', Cinematographer - Bonnie Elliott, Produced by: Cyan Films and The Koop

The viewing experience will move from the halls on Mount Carmel, to the home screens of film lovers, who can watch the festival films on their personal computers, TVs, tablets and even mobile screens.

Just as at a regular film festival, there is a screening schedule in which each film has a screening date and time and even a virtual hall. However, unlike a regular festival, it there is flexibility in the film viewing as each film will be available for viewing for 24 hours, from the start of its scheduled screening. All films at the festival will be screened with Hebrew subtitles.

The artistic program includes 95 new films from Israel and around the world, among them, award winning films and international festival selections. The films will be screened within competition frameworks, and a special tribute will be dedicated to the French director, Éric Rohmer, among the pioneers of the French New Wave, on the occasion of the production of new digital copies of his films.

The 36th Haifa International Film Festival will include its traditional international film industry events with the participation of Israeli and international industry representatives, including the pitching conference and Cinemarket, along with the digital screening of TV series.

*Seventeen films will compete in Haifa’s Carmel International Film Competition with an international jury headed by Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Jury panel members include Mariette Rissenbeek, the Executive Director of the Berlin International Film Festival; Alessandro Raja, CEO and founder of Festival Scope; director, screenwriter and actress Hagar Ben-Asher; film critic, filmmaker and screenwriter Yair Raveh; Jovan Marjanovic, producer and head of the CineLink Industry Days at the Sarajevo Film Festival; and director and screenwriter Elite Zexer.

* 8 films in the Israeli documentary film competition

* 21 student films, short independent films and animated films

* International Pitching Conference and industry workshops to promote Israeli feature filmmaking that will be attended by top Israeli and international film and television industry representatives

* Haifa Cinemarket

* TV series conference

Haifa International Film Festival Artistic Director Pnina Blayer and Festival Director Yaron Shamir: “We have decided to produce this special edition of the festival as an expression of trust in our dedicated audience and the importance of maintaining the continuity and the tradition of this important cultural and cinematic event for Haifa, specifically, and for cinema lovers in general. The film industry in Israel is going through a difficult period, and – by holding Israeli film competitions and industry events -- we want to express encouragement and support for creators and production teams whose voices have been silenced for many months."

The Haifa International Film Festival is supported by the Haifa Municipality, the Israel Film Council and the Ministry of Culture and Sport. The Festival is produced by ETHOS - The Haifa Municipality Art, Culture and Sports Association Company.

Artistic Director: Pnina Blayer


The movie tickets will be available for purchasing on the festival website, from September 27th, 2020 until the start of each film. The number of screenings and the number of tickets for each film is limited. It is therefore advisable to book in advance.

Ticket Prices

Single ticket - 25 NIS

5 movies tab - 100 NIS

10 movies tab - 180 NIS

Festival badge - 450 NIS - free viewing of all festival films

Meetings with filmmakers from Israel and around the world will be posted on the festival's website, and will be open for free viewing.

Telephone support during the festival between 10:00-22:00 by calling *9300 or by email

The 36th Haifa Film Festival: An Online Celebration
From the film 'Bad Tales' credit Pepito Produzioni-Amka Films



1. The Church

Israel 2020

Dir.: Anat Tel

Pro.: Anat Tel, Hans Robert Eisenhauer

Produced with the support of The New Fund for Cinema and Television (NFCT), Mekan 33, ARTE-NDR, NHK, BBC ARABIC, YLE, RTS, RSI, Greenhouse

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem – the most sacred place in Christendom – is shared by six different Christian sects: Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians, Copts, Syrians and the Ethiopians - all of whom are constantly trying to maintain the ancient, fragile status quo. The guardians of the key to the Church are two Muslim families, both of which claim to be the key custodian. And one Israeli Police officer, Johnny, who's responsible for keeping the peace in the Church.

Filmography: Phoenix (2018), Harish: City of Refuge (2017), (2016), Mom, Dad, I'm Muslim (2012), I’m Not Filipina (2010).

2. Scattergories

Israel 2020

Directed and Produced by: Yakie Ayalon

Produced with the support of KAN 11 - Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, The New Fund for Cinema and Television

Esther, Emmanuel and Michal were born in Israel to migrant parents from Nigeria. In a moment of despair, they were torn away from their Israeli existence to a Nigerian reality, unable to continue their studies, living for a time on the streets.

When Esther celebrated her eighteenth birthday she managed to return to Israel on her own. Israel is not the same home she remembered, but despite everything, she is determined to bring her family back there and reunite again. Now it is up to her to save the family.

Filmography: GyeNyame (2016), Light Up Nigeria (2015), Izon Roots (2015), Jira (2011), Good News (2008).

3. In Secret

Israel 2020

Dir.: Lina Chaplin

Pro.: Daniela Reiss Razon

Produced with the support of Kan - The Israeli Public Broadcasting, The Film & Media Collaborative, Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and AVI CHAI Foundation.

“Anusim” - They are everywhere - Ultra-Orthodox Jews. They cannot be identified. Within them there is a struggle between the inner truth and the outside world. How did they become “Anusim”? Why are they and not others?

The common line is a basic requirement in Orthodox society. You have to be ‘someone’ to take a step that takes you out of the line you were born into. Anusim are talented people, often with a rebellious personality. Years of research often make us indifferent to human encounters, not in this case.

Filmography: Underground Ballet (2019), Eighty and Counting (2016), Paper Show (2002), Trumpet in the Vadi (2001).

4. Bitter Honey

Israel 2020

Dir.: Udi Kalinsky, Revital Oren

Pro.:Udi Kalinsky

Produced with the support of The Rabinovich Foundation - Israel Cinema Project, The Galil Film Fund.

The hero of this story is not a famous man. He has won no awards and you probably have never heard his name. Yet, Yosef does one of the most important things a person can do today for the environment. He is a beekeeper.

The documentary illustrates how terrible and cruel today’s world is for bees. Most of the world’s city-dwelling humans have not (yet) experienced the destruction we have wreaked on the planet for the past 100 years. But for people like Yosef, who try to live in harmony with nature and earn their living from it, this devastation is an everyday reality.

Filmography (Udi Kalinsky): "Galey- Zahal" (TV Series), The Fine Dynasty (2019)

(Revital Oren): Judah Goes to War (TV Series), Women Under Pressure (TV Series).

5. The Red Scarf

Israel 2020

Directed and produced by: Peter Mostovoy

Produced with the support of KAN - Israeli Public Broadcasting, The Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts.

“The Red Scarf” is the story of a film director in the Communist Soviet Union, an author of many documentaries, who became part of World Cinema history.

This is the story of a person far removed from politics and public passions, a man who believes that the totalitarian regime does not concern him. However, life around him moves according to the laws of communist authority. And our hero, contrary to his will, is dragged into the course of Communist absurdity.

Filmography: The Stage (2005), Master Blakowski (1970), Military Orchestra (1968), Three Lessons Only (1968).

6. Leaving Paradise

Israel 2020

Dir.: Ofer Freiman

Pro.: David Noy, Yoram Ivri

Produced with the support of Yes Docu, Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and AVI CHAI Foundation

Cleo fulfilled his dream: to leave the big city with his wife and fifteen children, to establish a family commune on a farm in Brazil. Exploring their family roots leads the children to discover their surprising heritage, which undermines the existence of the communal paradise.

A Feature-Length Debut

7. Susita

Israel 2020

Directed and produced by Avi Weissblei

Produced with the support of Yes Docu, The New Fund for Cinema and TV

For many years, the Susita car was considered a groundbreaking Israeli invention that put Israel on the global map. The young State of Israel was convinced it had started a revolution. The car, with its fiberglass shell, brought glory to the State. Today, five decades later, it is time to reveal the unbelievable story: the story about one man who believed Susita would change the world.

Filmography: The Assassination (2018), The Ceremony (2014), A State behind the Scenes (2010).

8. Israeli Cinema - HERSTORY

Israel 2020

Dir.: Smadar Zamir

Pro.: Haggai Arad, Elad Peleg

Produced with the support of Gesher Multicultural Film Fund, Rabinovich Foundation - Cinema Project, Bouras - House for Independent Art, Kivunim - Beer Sheva, Cinema South Festival - Sapir Academic College.

A feminist film essay devoted to Israel’s female fiction feature film directors. The story of the woman in the director’s chair unfolds through Ellida Geyra – Israel’s first female fiction filmmaker; Twenty-four moving monologues by present day female directors, and one searing speech by Ronit Elkabetz.

The spiraling, intuitive, and associative structure of the film recounts the experiences of women who have worked their way through the masculine world of cinema in Israel. Their stories suggest a magical mirror of a woman who wants her story to be heard.

A Feature-Length Debut



Four Women Directors, Four Heroines, Four Stories About Courage

Directed by: Shani Egozin, Shira Schneider, Hava Rokhlin, Mya Kaplan

Created & Artistic Directed by: Michal Vinik, Maya Dreifuss

Produced by: Efrat Cohen

What is a woman's courage? What is the difference between courage as defined by men and by women? Is a woman who shows courage rewarded, or does she pay a heavy price? Maybe the refusal to be brave is in itself courageous? ‘Heroine,’ a collaboration between the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television of Tel Aviv University and the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund, puts a spotlight on stories told by female filmmakers focused on, and through the eyes of, female protagonists. This current edition brings to the screen fiction stories which seek to break through the discourse and dialectic of courage and cowardice to discover an additional range of concepts that are not as definitive.


Sundance Film Festival 2020

‘This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection,” by director Lesotho’s Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, was selected for Sundance’s official competition and won a special jury prize.

‘Exile’ by director Visar Morina was part of Sundance’s official competition and also won the Best Film Award at the Sarajevo Film Festival, 2020.

‘Summertime’ by director Carlos López Estrada, one of the most talked about films at Sundance, paints a portrait of Los Angeles, 2020, through the use of Spoken Word art. The film will be screened in its international premiere in Haifa.

Berlin International Film Festival 2020

‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’: Director Burhan Qurbani's new adaptation of the classic novel by Alfred Döblin. Official Competition-Berlin Festival.

‘DAU. Natasha’ from directors Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Jekaterina Oertel. This talked-about and controversial film won Berlin’s Silver Bear Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution and was filmed inside a huge complex built in Kharkov, Ukraine from 2008-2011. Dozens of people, the vast majority of whom are not actors in their profession, lived, loved, went to work and created art in a structure resembling a research institute in the Soviet Union in the 1950s.

Philippe Falardeau's ‘My Salinger Year’ was the opening film of the Berlin Festival 2020.

‘Bad Tales,’ the dark legend created by the Italian brothers Damiano and Fabio D'Innocenzo, won the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival.

‘Undine,’ the new film by Christian Petzold, one of Germany’s top film directors. (‘Barbara,’ ‘Phoenix,’ ‘Transit’), winner of the Fipresci International Federation of Film Critics’ Award as well as the Silver Bear Best Actress Award (Paula Beer) at the 2020 Berlin Festival.

Cannes Film Festival 2020 – Official Selection

‘In the Dusk,’ the new and challenging film by the award-winning Lithuanian master Sharunas Bartas, takes place in post-World War II Soviet-occupied Lithuania. The film will also compete in the upcoming San Sebastian Festival.

‘Antoinette dans les Cévennes’ from director Caroline Vignal.

‘The Big Hit,’ directed by Emmanuel Courcol.

Venice Film Festival

‘White on White,’ by Théo Court: Winner of Best Director in the Horizons section and a FIPRESCI award at the Venice Film Festival 2019.

‘Padrenostro,’ by Claudio Noce, comes to Haifa straight from the official competition at the Venice Film Festival 2020.

SXSW 2020

‘Aviva,’ an official selection at SXSW, is the new and daring independent film by the Israeli/American director, Boaz Yakin.

Sarajevo Film Festival 2020

‘Mare,’ a film by Swiss director Andrea Staka, won the Best Actress Award (Marija Skaricic) at the 2020 Sarajevo Festival.

Tallinn Film Festival 2019

Anshul Chauhan's ‘Kontora’: The Japanese film won the Best Film Award at the Tallinn Festival.

‘The Names of the Flowers,’ a film by Iranian director Bahman Tavoosi, was winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Tallinn Festival.


‘The Reason I Jump,’ by director Jerry Rothwell, won the Audience Award in the World Cinema–Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival. Based on the bestseller by Naoki Higashida about a 13-year-old autistic Japanese boy.

In ‘On the Record,’ Kirby Dick, one of the top documentary filmmakers in the United States, along with producer and director Amy Ziering, reveals the phenomenon of sexual exploitation in the African-American music industry. The film aroused intense interest in its Sundance premiere and won critical acclaim.

‘Songs of Repression,’ by directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner, won the Best Documentary Award at the Copenhagen Film Festival. The film uncovers one of the most charged affairs in Chile's history. The Colonia Dignidad (Dignity Colony) community operated as a cult led by Paul Schäfer which forced its members into an exploitative lifestyle, including the sexual abuse of children. A complex and gut-wrenching creation.

‘Body of Truth’ with the participation of artists Marina Abramovic, Sigalit Landau and Shirin Neshat.

‘Winter Journey’ from director Anders Østergaard is last film to include Swiss actor Bruno Ganz before his death. A unique and exciting docudrama about survival during the rise of the German Reich.

‘Lost in La Mancha’ and ‘He Dreams of Giants’: Director Terry Gilliam began working on ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in 2000. The production collapsed and the film was never completed. The story of a genius who fails to realize his vision was documented in film by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe in ‘Lost in La Mancha.’ Now, 19 years later in the film ‘He Dreams of Giants,’ the directing duo returns to the set of ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ and documents Gilliam who struggling with his own demons and his impossible expectations manages to finish the production of the film starring Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce.


‘The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks’: An original and spectacular animated adaptation by the Russian animator Andrey Khrzhanovskiy based on two classic works: the “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol and Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera of the same name, based on Gogol’s story. The film celebrates the genius of pioneers who were ahead of their time, who were brave by going against the flow and paid a heavy price for daring. Special Jury Award at the 2020 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

‘The Wolf House’ by Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León: A dark story inspired by "The Three Little Pigs" about a young girl who tries to create a safe home for herself and to defend herself against the cult leader from whom she fled. Winner of the Best Film Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.


Two of the most talked about horror films of the year will be screened as part of Haifa’s "Midnight Madness":

‘Relic,’ being described as a "feminist horror film," was written and directed by women and stars Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote.

‘Fanny Lye Deliver'd’ by British artist Thomas Clay, one of the most talented and unique voices in British cinema.


‘Pinocchio’: The new adaptation of Matteo Garrone’s 'Pinocchio' starring Roberto Benigni as Geppetto.

‘H is for Happiness’ John Sheedy's film winner of the ‘Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury’ at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival.


‘A Tale of Winter’ (1992)

‘Pauline at the Beach’ (1983)

‘Autumn Tale’ (1998)

‘Claire’s Knee’ (1970)

‘Summer’ (1986)

‘Love in the Afternoon’ (1972)

‘My Night at Maud’s’ (1969)


Haifa’s industry events will include: International Pitching Conference in which 13 Israeli feature film projects will be presented; Cinemarket-Works in Progress; TV series conference featuring local and international creators; student pitching conference to include 12 feature film pitches in various stages of production.

Participants in this year's industry program include the renowned British producer Michael Kuhn ("Being John Malkovich" and more), François Yon, co-CEO of the French production and distribution company Playtime ("Son of Saul"), Gyda Velvin Myklebust, program director of New Nordic Films industry section of the Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund, Claudia Tronnier, head of department Das kleine Fernsehspiel at German television ZDF.

The festival will hold a program called “Re-Thinking Distribution,” a program of North American distributors of independent and Israeli films to deliberate together future distribution in this challenging era. Participants include: Wendy Liddell from Kino Lorber, Michael Rosenberg from Film Movement, Marcus Hu from Strand Releasing and Eric d'Arbeloff, Co-President of Roadside Attractions, moderated by Eran Polishuk.


HOME, Screenplay: Benny Fredman, Dror Keren. Directed by: Benny Fredman. Production: Benny Fredman, Red Films, Shalom Eisenbach, SE film production.

BORDEL TOTAL, Screenplay: Omri Van Asel, Roi Assaf. Directed by: Roi Assaf. Production: Kobi Mizrahi Productions.

THE FARM, Screenplay: Alma Ganihar. Directed by: Golan Reese. Production: Daroma Productions, Hagai Arad, Elad Peleg.

SWING HIGH, script and direction: Alon Gur Arieh. Production: Ofer Naim, Moshe Edri, Avi Nesher, United King.

THE SEA, Screenplay and Director: Shai Carmeli. Production: Majdal Productions, Baher Agbariya.

THE PIER STRONGHOLD, Screenplay and Director: Lior Chefetz. Production:  UCM, Avraham Pirchi and Chilik Michaeli.

UP SIDE DOWN, Screenplay: Bat-El Musari. Directed by: Lee Gilat. Production: Zoa Films, Aviv Ben Shlush.

CHECK POINTS, Screenplay: Rita Borodiansky. Directed by: Oded Davidoff. Production: Shamayim Content and Production, Osnat Saranga.

WHAT HAPPENED IN VISZNICE STAYS IN VISZNICE, Screenplay and Director: Matan Guggenheim and Assaf Abiri. Production: Transfax, Marek Rosenbaum.

NEW HEART, Screenplay and Director: Raphael Nadjari. Production: Laila Films - Itai Tamir, Unite de Production - Bruno Nahon and Caroline Nataf.

UPSTAIRS MICHELLE, a film by Hadas Neumann. Production: Firma Films - Adar Shafran.

MILA AND THE DREAM SNATCHERS, script: Hagar Yanai and Eran B.Y. Directed by: Eran B.Y. Production: Amit Eran BLVD. MEDIA.

BLUE MARKS, Screenplay and Director: a film by Dina Riklis based on a book by Emily Moatti. Production: Eran Riklis Productions.

The pitching conference is held with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Israel Film Council, the Israel Film Fund, the Scriptwriters Guild of Israel, the Israeli Producers Association, Opus Productions and Jungle Sound. The student pitching conference an initiative of the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and the Haifa International Film Festival, with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Israel Film Council, Opus Productions and Jungle Sound.


Post Production digital services grant by The Post Republic, Germany

Cinemarket – Work-In-Progress screenings will feature Woman in the Valley, a film by Dondi Schwartz, Dondi Media; In Bed by Nitzan Gilady, Gilady Nitzan Productions; The Swimmer by Adam Kalderon, Enginio Productions; Cinema Sabaya a film by Orit Fouks Rotem, Green Productions, Altman Method, a film by Nadav Aronowicz, Shvil Films.


Meetings with creators of local and international series, including Italian director Saverio Costanzo, the director of the TV series ‘My Brilliant Friend,’ produced by HBO, based on the Neapolitan Novels by Italian writer Elena Ferrante.


The movie tickets will be available for purchasing on the festival website, from September 27th, 2020 until the start of each film. The number of screenings and the number of tickets for each film is limited. It is therefore advisable to book in advance.

Ticket Prices

Single ticket - 25 NIS

5 movies tab - 100 NIS

10 movies tab - 180 NIS

Festival badge - 450 NIS - free viewing of all festival films

Meetings with filmmakers from Israel and around the world will be posted on the festival's website, and will be open for free viewing.

Telephone support during the festival between 10:00-22:00 by calling *9300 or by email

Happy Sukkot!


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