I'm issuing this article even though I don't have a confirmed date of translation into English of all the film sub-titles mainly because I trust that at least some of them will be. Usually the graduation films represent Israel in international festivals. Moreover, in the meantime, my bilingual readers will be able to see them in Hebrew at the Tel-Aviv Cinematheque on Feb 14th, 2019.
The Maaleh Film School is a film academy located in Jerusalem. Its curriculum includes studies related to film-making from various aspects including producing, directing, screenwriting and even video-therapy studies all combined with a unique Beit Midrash program for jewish studies that attempts to create a new visual language that brings to the screen the treasures of Jewish culture.
Every year, Maaleh produces short feature and documentary films that represent Israel in international festivals. Over the last ten years, the school's films have won dozens of prizes and titles, and its graduates have joined the film and television industry in Israel. I am happy to share with you the final films presented at the graduation ceremony of the class of 2019.
Above: Ma'ale Class of 2019
This year, ten graduate films of the Maaleh Film School were awarded prizes, two of which were documentaries and eight feature films. In the documentary track, the students traced interesting characters portraying their emotional stories, questions and thoughts, and in the feature films, the plots touched upon various aspects of Israeli society. Some of the films featured talented and experienced actors, including Ami Smolarchik, Sharon Alexander, Tuval Shafir, Ahuva Keren and Avraham Selektar.
Additional awards were presented as follows:
The prize for excellence in editing was awarded to Gefen Ariel, the prize for excellence in production was awarded to Hila Pollack and the prize for excellence in photography was given to Sapir Rokach.
The Israel Film Fund prize for developing a script for a full-length feature film was awarded to screenwriter: Ruti Rabinovitch.
A prize for developing a script for a short film, on behalf of Ma'aleh Religious Zionism, was awarded to Nadav Suissa.
Above Left to Right: Rabbi Mordechai Vardi, Head of Screenwriting in Ma'aleh, Director of Ma'ale Neta Ariel, Ruti Rabinovitch and her son receiving her award as detailed above.
Intentions (27 min) Director: Noa Anikster-Oren Award: The Biloya Maoz Award for Social Values
Noa is a religious woman who lives in Jerusalem and prays by asking questions. On her journey to be at one with her religion and prayer, she meets two women, a Christian and a Muslim, who are seeking the same things and are coping with the same difficulties. Their innocence meets with objections from their environment, both between them and within them. The film is a prayer.
Simple Things (30 Minutes) Director: Liel Gur Award: The Best Documentary Award, on behalf of the Jerusalem Foundation
Maya came from the secular kibbutz straight to the world of ultra-orthodox matchmaking. She had already turned thirty-seven years old, had undergone one hundred dates and had overseen one hundred births throughout her career, but a wedding and a birth of her own were not in sight.
Above: Director Liel Gur
Within His Passions (14 minutes) Director: Hillel Rate Award: The Jewish Film Award, named after Hannah and Louis Schwarzer Cast: Dor Ronen, Or Lumbroz.
Shmuel and Hannah have married recently. But Shmuel, whose passion for her is fearful, prefers to escape from it and find refuge by looking at random women on the street when going out for night walks through the city. But tonight Hannah will wake up in his imagination and bring him home.
Being Cooperman (18 min) Director: Benny Snyder Award: Prize for the Israeli film named after Eliyahu Reichman Cast: Ami Smolartchik, Sharon Alexander
When Aharon Kuperman, the son of Itzik Kuperman, the legendary policeman and the most honest policeman on the force refuses to cancel a report he gave in the morning, he does not imagine it is going to lead to a series of events that are going to change his life.
Comrades in Arms(15 min) Director: Yair Menachem Ariel Cast: Tuval Shafir, Amir Goldman, Amnon Peled.
Asher, the oldest soldier in the company, is responsible for the discipline of the young fighters. Asher believes in hierarchy and that only hard, intensive Sisyphean labor can mold real fighters who are fit to serve in the company. Itai does not get along with Asher's policy and is not prepared fall in line with it. The tension between the two rises to an explosion that causes both to cross the limit.
Letting Go (20 minutes) Director: Shira Billig Cast: Dafi Alpern, Iftach Raveh, Avraham Selektar
The film tells the story of Mika (32) who proposes to her partner Nati and is rejected. She returns to live in her childhood room, where she finds her old Atari game and becomes addicted to it again. When the remote control breaks down she goes on a quest to find a new remote, but in the meantime finds out that the letters she wrote to Nati are those that will restore her peace.
Above Left to Right: Actress Dafi Alpern on the staircase and Director Shira Billig on stage.
Attraction Power (18 minutes) Director: Lauren Trabelsi Awards: The Mayor of Jerusalem Award for Best Feature Film and Jury Prize for Cinematic Achievement on behalf of the Cinema and Television Project in Jerusalem Cast: Shir Cohen, Itai Guyer, Beny Cogan.
Rotem, a teenage girl, is preparing for an important Thai boxing competition. She begins to date Shachar, a young man from the group, but after a while feels that he is in her way. She decides to break up with him, but Shachar does not accept it nicely.
Sea Level (18 minutes) Director: Shaked Shilo Cast: Sharon Tal, Ahuva Keren.
Daria, a successful family lawyer, snatches her battered mother from the hospital to save her from her abusive father. The two embark on a journey through the desert filled with closeness and distance, painful adolescence and things buried deep.
When You Can See the End (15 minutes) Director: Aner Tausig Cast: Uriya Hirsh, Itzik Golan
Alex dreams of being a famous photographer and in the meantime takes pictures of walls in the street. After mistakenly documenting a crime he is pursued by a hired assassin named Zada. In the final confrontation between them, Alex has to face both his way of life and the dreams he will never realize.
"GIVE IT BACK!" (15 minutes) Director: Ruchama Ehrenhalt Cast: Ora Knapel, Tadese Aklo, Michaella Kavim
Twelve-year-old Olivia, a new immigrant from the United States, is looking for her place in the new world she is in. She befriends her Ethiopian classmate, Elm, but it costs her a social price. It's a story about alienation, friendship and home.
During the graduation event I saw two of the winning features: the documentary "Simple Things" and the feature film "Letting Go". I enjoyed them immensely and believe they do credit to the school and to Israel.
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