There is a growing appetite for all things Israeli on the small and big screen which makes Odelia Haroush a very happy woman. The former marketing executive is now CEO of SERET-International-the UK Israeli Film & TV Festival and her role is to search, select and then surprise audiences who clamour to see upcoming releases created in the Holy Land.
It’s fair to say Odelia has always been in the business of sourcing and promoting the best Israel has to offer. She previously ran the hugely popular Ahava store in Covent Garden until the BDS protestors alarmed the landlords, and Odelia had to close up and consider her options.
“Running a film festival was not top of my list. In fact it wasn’t even on my list but I spoke with Anat Koren, a prominent figure in London’s Israeli community and her long-time friend Patty Hochmann who as a member of Israel’s Film Academy has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years.” Together the women decided that Britain needed an Israeli national film festival to sit alongside other national film festivals, and agreed to take on the challenge.
It is no small achievement for a woman who was once selling Dead Sea well-being treatments to now be on first name terms with Israel’s most formidable film makers. “We were in our infancy when Fauda creator Lior Raz asked if I would show some episodes of his show before it was a hit,” says Odelia.
The calibre of content now accounts for Seret festivals being held in the UK , Germany ,Netherlands and Chile. At the UK launch in February director Nir Bergman previewed Just For Today, his groundbreaking TV series about a half-way house for prisoners starring Henry David and former actress turned social worker Tal Lifshitz.
Jewish News are delighted to be the media partners for SERET International in May which will open with Erez Tadmor’s The Art of Waiting.
Erez Tadmor’s engaging The Art of Waiting is the festival’s gala film Before he went into writing the script Tadmor thought the story about the fertility issues faced by he and his wife were too personal.
Audience reaction to screenings proved otherwise and the tale of Liran and Tali, a couple in their thirties who dream of having a child dealt with the physical and mental issues as well as the family issues of having to embark on fertility treatment. The challenges it poses begs the question – Will their love survive?
Roll The Movie
Jewish News & Seret International bringing Cinema to your home.
What a gift we have for you. Dan Wolman’s An Israeli Love Story. Under normal circumstances a revered film maker such as Wolman would not be emailing press images of his own movie to a journalist in London. Or sharing his siesta times for the following day. But there is nothing normal about now. Dan, 78 is in his apartment in Ramat Gan is on lock down with his wife Shoshana.
In the apartment downstairs he can hear the voices and laughter of his two grandchildren (they have six) and ordinarily there would be hugs before bedtime and a shared family meal. But with no contact of any kind allowed, a wave over the balcony must suffice. “It does feel like the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers,” says Dan who usually works from home and is using the time to adapt Amos Oz’ Judas for the screen. “My life is writing scripts, shooting films for a few weeks and then back at home editing.” So it’s the same, but different with Shoshana as his film editor in a partnership that has resulted in many critically acclaimed films.
An Israeli Love Story is one of them and because Seret International has been postponed, Dan has offered his film about the real life love affair between actress/director Pnina Gary and Eli, the son of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Israel’s second president. Set in 1947 during the final days of the British Mandate and early years of the founding of the country, the film reveals the sacrifices made by the industrious pioneers and their determination to succeed in a kibbutz romance about choices that ends in tragedy. As the director of My Michael and Hide and Seek, Dan has received the Jerusalem Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an Ophir Lifetime Achievement Award and countless other global honours. Chatting with him during the darkest of days provided a chink of light – and An Israeli Love Story will do the same for you.
This is the link to watch the film:
Directed by Sagi Bornstein and Udi Nir this documentary reveals what happened when the cameras kept rolling after Golda Meir gave an interview to Israeli television shortly before her death.
During the intimate talk with the first and so far, only woman to lead Israel,Golda spoke freely of her term as Prime Minister – five turbulent years that changed the course of history in the Middle East and secured her place in history, albeit at a high personal cost.
The assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by an orthodox and ultra-nationalist Israeli Jew Yigal Amir, has been described as one of the most traumatic events in Israeli history, widely condemned as the single act which put paid to the Israeli peace process for decades.
In his latest and highly controversial feature film, Yaron Zilberman delivers a thriller which follows the year leading to the assassination from the perspective of the assassin.
Palestinian theatre director Azam Salameh re-ignites more than the war-time romance between his grandmother, singer Layla and Dr Alfasi the last Jewish citizen remaining Acre, in trying to stage his latest play. He meets resistance from both communities.
Acre Dreams, a beautifully crafted film, is set during the last days of the British Mandate, and is the latest work from Daniel Wachsmann, one of Israel’s most prolific film and television producers and directors.
This story of optimistic Russian-Jewish immigrants in Israel after the fall of the Iron Curtain is warmly played out in this tale of raw disappointment and discovering new futures. The immigrants attempt to use their talents lead to some unexpected, funny and painful turns in this wittily scripted story by the director Evgeny Ruman, who came to Israel from Russia as a child.
Oren Gerner’s feature debut is a tender and profound examination of long-standing marriage; intergenerational relationships; companionship and the sad realisation that change and old age creeps up on us all.
Starring Gerner’s own parents, Africa focusses on 68-year old Meir, recently retired. When the organisers of the local village festival decide to hand Meir’s usual role in planning the event to the local youth, his feeling of uselessness grows.
Starring, written and directed by Guy Amir and Hanan Savyon, creators of hit comedy Maktub, Forgiveness is set in the south of Israel near the Gaza border, in a place where the long-suffering citizens live with incoming rocket fire on a regular basis. Long time pals Shaul and Nissan attempt to rob a postal bank. But the botched job results in Shaul being collared and sent to prison.
On his release, Shaul is less than pleased to be greeted by the newly religious Nissan seeking his forgiveness.
BORN IN JERUSALEM
Yossi has nightmares triggered by the bombings he grew up with and he started guiding tourists around the famous terror attack sites in his home city of Jerusalem as a way of coping.
In his semi autobiographical film, director Yossi Atia stars as Ronen who falls in love with an ex-Jerusalemite with a thirst for life on
one of his tours. He is torn between the conflicting forces of life and death that she presents him with.
PEACHES AND CREAM
A semi-autobiographical existential comedy from writer/Director Gur Bentwich who plays himself as a neurotic director trying to find an audience for the release of his latest film.
Everything seems to conspire against him, even his mates, as he dashes from one encounter to another, and from one world to the next, the result is an unforgettable night for him and his friends.
THE RABBI FROM THE HIZBALLA Avraham Sinai, an ultra-Orthodox Jew living in Israel, was born Ibrahim Yassin in a small village in Lebanon. A Muslim with an inconceivable association to Hezbollah, he became one of Israel’s leading spies, at the heart of some of the most daring, dangerous and secret operations Israel attempted in Lebanon in the 1980s and ’90s. What unfolds in Itamar Chen’s suspenseful documentary shows that truth is often more extraordinary than fiction.
YOU ONLY DIE TWICE
Ernst Bechinsky was a man who died in Israel in 1969 – and then again in Austria in 1987.
In 2010, director Yair Lev’s mother learned of an inheritance but she had to prove that she was the daughter of Ernst Bechinsky, the former president of a Jewish community in Austria.
What seemed simple instantly became mysterious with the shocking discovery of a second man with the same name, birthday and birthplace as her father.
Agunnah, meaning a “chained” or “anchored” woman, is a Jewish law principle in which a woman is bound in marriage by a husband who refuses to grant a divorce or, who is missing and not proven dead. A chained woman will never be able to marry in a Jewish ceremony nor have children with another man.
Yossef Mourad is an ultra-orthodox Sephardi rabbi tasked with saving women who are denied a divorce from a lifelong existence as a Chained Woman. Contrary to most of his colleagues, Yossef sympathises with the women on whose behalf he operates, he tracks down their husbands, and he will do anything, in line with Jewish law (and sometimes not) to succeed in his mission.