SUNDAY, JULY 16 2017
AT JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL www.ScreenDaily.com
Editorial +44 7436 096 420
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SUNDAY, JULY 16 2017
AT JERUSALEM FILM FESTIVAL www.ScreenDaily.com
Editorial +44 7436 096 420
Advertising +44 7540 100 254
‘Powerful’ Pinhas lab’s top pick BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW
Israeli actor-filmmaker Pini Tavger’s debut feature Pinhas has won the top $50,000 prize at the final pitching event of the sixth edition of the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab. The tale of a young Russian immigrant coming to terms with life with his single mother in a small Israeli town is produced by Haim Mecklberg of 2-Team Productions. “The presentation of Pinhas provided the jury with a powerful
Motel Acacia signs its first guest
experience: a fascinating, sensitive and conflictual script based on semi-autobiographic hardships beautifully presented through a scene for the upcoming film,” said Hengameh Panahi, Celluloid Dreams founding chief and Sam Spiegel jury chair. It is Tavger’s first feature after two short films: 10 Weitzman Street and Pinhas (which sowed the seeds for the feature). He also directed a segment of the 2012 IsraeliPalestinian portmanteau film
Water. Tavger’s acting credits include Hannah Arendt and Atlit. The $20,000 second prize was shared between Georgian filmmaker Dea Kulumbegashvili’s religious dogma drama Naked Sky and Israeli director Maya Dreifuss’s feminist detective tale Highway 65. All prizes were sponsored by the Beracha Foundation. Naked Sky revolves around a failed writer who returns to his native village and embarks on an affair with a Jehovah’s Witness,
FEATURES The enablers Nine Israeli producers who are on the rise » Page 8
Brit watching Three UK debut films are making an international stir » Page 10
REVIEW Holy Air Shady Srour’s Israeli comedy juggles wry humour with heartfelt family drama » Page 15
SCREENINGS All today’s films » Page 16-18
MPM, Blonde board Pirates BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW
Paris-based MPM Films and Greek production company Blonde are teaming on French director Myriam Gharbi’s debut feature Pirates. The semi-autobiographical tale revolves around a rebellious young woman from a tough outercity suburb who is given a new lease of life when she hooks up with two anarchists after serving time in prison on drug-dealing charges. It was among nine projects presented at the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab pitching event on Friday. MPM producer Claire Gadéa, who is lead producing out of France, previously produced Philippe Lacôte’s Run, which was
BY MELANIE GOODFELLOW
Taipei-based film and TV powerhouse MandarinVision has boarded Philippines-based Malaysian director Bradley Liew’s upcoming horror picture Motel Acacia, set against a brothel with a sinister mission to bump off migrant workers. Producer Bianca Bal buena of Manila-based Epicmedia Productions revealed the deal at the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab pitching event on Friday. Balbuena said it was the fruit of a meeting with MandarinVision’s head of film Yeh Jufeng at Taipei Film Festival earlier this month. “She wants to support Bradley Liew because she thinks he’s one of the new talents of southeast Asian cinema and I believe the same thing,” said Balbuena. Motel Acacia is about a half-Filipino man brought to the West by his tyrannical father and groomed to take over a sex motel which contains a bed haunted with the spirit of a Filipino tree demon. Roughly 90% of the shoot will take place in the Philippines. At Jufeng’s request, Balbuena and Liew are considering casting a US actor for the role of the tyrant father and doing their postproduction abroad. Motel Acacia will be Liew’s second feature after 2016’s Singing In Graveyards.
sparking a religious war. Dreifuss’s psychological thriller Highway 65 revolves around a policewoman who becomes obsessed with the case of a missing woman. The other jury members included European Film Market president Beki Probst, Locarno Film Festival chief Carlo Chatrian, Canal+ acquisition executive Laurent Hassid, producer Cedomir Kolar, Israel Film Fund chief Katriel Schory and Vincenzo Bugno, head of the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.
also developed at the lab before going on to premiere in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2014. Gadéa has already secured development money from France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC). Blonde founding chief Fenia Cossovitsa is one of Greece’s best known independent producers. Her recent co-producing credits include Joyce A Nashawati’s Blind Sun, Delphine and Muriel Coulin’s Voir Du Pays and Tony Gatlif ’s road movie Djam, which premiered at Cannes this year. Gharbi is best known for her award-winning short April 4th 1968, which ties in a drama in Guadeloupe with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Fig Tree seals Venice finance slot Israeli actress Evgenia Dodina in the Jerusalem Cinematheque garden following the JFF premiere of Death Of A Poetess, which she features in. Dodina also appears in Veronica Kedar’s Family, which screens today at JFF, and is serving on this year’s International Competition jury.
Inaugural Think Fest ignites debate A group of high-profile film festival directors and wider industry gathered at Jerusalem Film Festival on Friday to debate the future of film festivals in the age of streaming platforms and the changing arthouse ecosystem. Dubbed Think Fest, the event’s
guests featured delegates from festivals such as Tribeca, Rotterdam, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Sarajevo, Berlin and Venice, with Screen International contributing editor Wendy Mitchell moderating the day’s discussion. » Turn to page 4 for full coverage
BY TOM GRATER
Alamork Marsha Davidian’s upcoming Israel-Germany-France co-production Fig Tree has been selected for the fourth edition of Venice Film Festival’s gap-financing market. The work-in-progress drama will have the opportunity to close its financing through one-toone meetings with potential international partners. To qualify, projects must already have at least 70% of funding in place. Fig Tree was the winner of the $50,000 Sam Spiegel International Film Lab prize in Jerusalem in 2014. It shot in Ethiopia in summer
2016. Saar Yogev and Naomi Levari produced for Tel Aviv-based Black Sheep Film Productions. Two other projects from the region have been invited to the finance market this year: Bethlehem-based filmmaker Muayad Alayan’s The Reports On Sarah And Saleem, a Palestine co-production with Netherlands, Germany and Mexico, and Nir Saar’s VR project My Girl Matryoshka, which was developed through the Berlinale College’s VR workshop and is an Israel-UK co-production. The market takes place during this year’s festival (Aug 30-Sept 9).
Think Fest dabbles with disruption BY TOM GRATER
The inaugural edition of Think Fest, which took place at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on July 14, kicked off with a debate about the impact of streaming platforms on the film festival ecosystem. Pointed reference was made to the activities of Netflix and the company’s disruptive approach to the traditional theatrical model. At this year’s Cannes, the objections of French cinema owners over the inclusion of two Netflix titles in Competition — Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories — forced the festival to announce a new policy. From next year, distributors will have to show theatrical intention to receive Competition slots. While Cannes’ situation may be unique — with France’s requirement for a 36-month window between theatrical and SVoD releases — Netflix’s apathy for theatrical distribution (barring awards-qualifying releases) has prompted much debate among festivals. If Netflix doesn’t need (or want) to go to Cannes, will that hurt other festivals, the panellists were asked by Think Fest moderator Wendy Mitchell? Frédéric Boyer, artistic director at Tribeca Film Festival, was not convinced the French festival would be able to stick to its guns. “I don’t think they will uphold it,” he said. Mirsad Purivatra, director and cofounder of Sarajevo Film Festival, suggested that the Netflix disruption was a similar industry shift to previous radical changes, such as the digitisation of cinemas. “We have to accept the time we live in, we need to find new roles for festivals in this world,” he said, adding that as a Netflix consumer, he was acutely aware of the platform’s benefits. Anna Hoffmann, programme manager for Berlinale’s Forum section, claimed that for her it was “business as usual”. Acknowledging that the rise of the digital giants had caused significant industry changes, she added that these were often
THINK FEST 2017
Film festivals’ growing role in distribution
Tribeca’s Frédéric Boyer (left) and Sarajevo’s Mirsad Purivatra
Rotterdam’s Bero Beyer
positive for filmmakers. “It’s good if you are lucky enough to have a project that catches their attention,” she said, noting that a global streaming deal comes with financial rewards and worldwide distribution scope that “no one else can offer”. The panel also addressed concerns about the terms of Netflix acquisition deals precluding the possibility of films having a healthy festival run. Speaking from the audience, Karel Och, artistic director of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, emphasised that a Netflix festival acquisition did not always stop films travelling. An example was Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon
(From left) Beta Cinema’s Cosima Finkbeiner; Locarno’s Carlo Chatrian; Wendy Mitchell; EFM’s Matthijs Wouter Knol
Gross’ My Happy Family, which premiered at Sundance and was acquired for global rights by Netflix in Berlin. It was written into the contract with sales agent Memento Films International that the film have an extended festival life, up until the film’s release on the streaming platform. Also speaking from the audience, Bero Beyer, International Film Festival Rotterdam director, revealed that IFFR had floated the possibility of the festival curating a Netflix subsection to the streaming giant. “They told us to get in line,” Beyer said, who added that festivals should find their own solutions and “expand on their own platforms”.
THINK FEST 2017
Staying relevant, budget strains and keeping sponsors happy BY TOM GRATER
Think Fest’s final panel explored the challenges facing film festivals in the 21st century, from the pressures of securing A-list talent to decreasing budgets. As arts budgets tighten, Think Fest moderator Wendy Mitchell asked panellists whether they were feeling the squeeze. Carlo Chatrian, artistic director of Locarno Film Festival, said that despite an overall 3% decrease in government funding for culture in Switzerland over the last year his festival’s budget had stayed steady at around $13.5m (chf13m).
Shortfalls in government funding could be made up by an increase in sponsors, he noted, but that came with its own challenges. The Locarno team now has more obligation to their commercial partners. “How do you sell a huge arthouse programme to a sponsor? That’s a challenge,” added Matthijs Wouter Knol, director of the Berlinale’s European Film Market. “Sponsors want specific things, as a festival you need to start thinking about what you can offer apart from your films.” The panel also addressed how festivals
4 Screen International at Jerusalem July 16, 2017
can stay relevant for industry attendees, as well as their public audiences. “What will become more important on top of the films is sharing an experience, something you cannot find on the web,” said Chatrian. “People need to meet each other; feedback by email isn’t the same.” Cosima Finkbeiner, festival manager at Beta Cinema, said that film festivals remain integral to the company’s sales strategy. “Finding the right world premiere portal for a film is what helps us sales agents get the ball rolling.”
The distribution role of festivals and the changing arthouse ecosystem was discussed in Think Fest’s second panel. Mike Goodridge, outgoing CEO of UK sales agent Protagonist Pictures and future artistic director at International Film Festival and Awards Macao, was bullish about the continued importance of festivals to sales agents. “The distribution system is so dire that these tentpole festivals are becoming incredibly important as the only places you can see films,” he said. “We’ve had many films that haven’t sold widely at all — that’s where festivals kick in, they help to get the film seen.” International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) director Bero Beyer said his festival team were constantly exploring new ideas to keep up with, and potentially get ahead of, the evolving arthouse landscape. Beyer talked up Rotterdam initiatives that he felt could move the dial, including IFFR Live, the festival’s satellite screening project, which this year took six festival films into more than 45 European cities, and IFFR Unleashed, the festival’s own VoD service that was soft-launched last year. Karel Och, artistic director of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, discussed his festival’s own local distribution initiative, which was set up in 2015 in partnership with Czech outfit Aerofilms. “We figured we should help local arthouse distribution by using the potential the festival has more than just one week a year,” said Och. The label releases six to seven films a year and currently breaks even, with larger releases such as Captain Fantastic and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth allowing them to distribute smaller films. Three films are being released after this year’s festival: Sundance hit The Big Sick, Axolotl Overkill and Francois Ozon’s Amant Double (The Double Lover). The panel also discussed the burgeoning awards season, and its impact on festivals. “I find it [award season] really vulgar these days, but it seems to be something you can’t shake,” said Goodridge. “It’s dictating festival strategy for films. Some films are banned from attending festivals outside of the US before Toronto, or New York. It’s getting fairly serious.” Tom Grater
SPOTLIGHT PITCH POINT
black comedy revolving around breastfeeding, a Palestinian transgender drama and a coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of an Israeli settlement are among the features due to be unveiled at Jerusalem Pitch Point presentation today and tomorrow (July 16-17). The competitive event, which takes place within the framework of Jerusalem Film Festival’s (JFF) industry programme, is designed to connect local filmmakers and their producers with international partners. Past participants include Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between, Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation and Rama Burshtein’s Fill The Void, as well as Scaffolding, The Cakemaker and Doubtful, which are competing in this year’s Israeli Feature Competition strand. A total of seven feature projects and four rough cuts will be presented at the meeting. “We focused on quality over quantity,” says JFF industry chief Ariel Richter, who oversaw the selection. “Throughout the process, we asked ourselves, ‘Do we need to see this film?’” Lucky seven Maya Kenig will present dark comedy Milk, which is set against the backdrop of a human milk parlour where women are pumped like cows as part of a commercial dairy operation. “We went crazy over this project when we were reading it. It’s so well-written. I told her [Kenig], ‘It’s the upbeat cousin of The Handmaid’s Tale,’” says Richter, referring to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian story of female suppression which has undergone a revival following its recent TV adaptation. Milk is Kenig’s second feature after her wellreceived 2012 comedy Off White Lies, which played at several festivals and was acquired by Film Movement for the US. Palestinian filmmaker Tawfik Abu Wael will unveil drama Wise Hassan, about a young man sent on a mission from his Palestinian town to Tel Aviv to murder an Israeli known as Lulu, who turns out to be a loveable transgender prostitute. It is Wael’s third feature after Thirst (Atash), which won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Critics’ Week in 2004 and scooped the best Israeli feature award at JFF the same year, and his more recent 2011 work Last Days In Jerusalem, which premiered at Locarno. “It’s a strong, sexy and packed story,” says Richter of Wise Hassan. Idan Hubel will present crime-drama A Great Light, about a female detective investigating the murder of a young girl by her father. It is his second feature after The Cutoff Man, which played in Venice’s Horizons section in 2012. Two projects have already attended high-profile co-financing events. Ruthy Pribar’s debut feature Asia — about a woman caring for her dying daughter —
‘We focused on quality over quantity. Throughout the process, we asked ourselves, ‘Do we need to see this film?’ Ariel Richter, Jerusalem Film Festival
Maya Kenig, Idan Hubel and Tawfik Abu Wael are among the Israeli filmmakers unveiling their new projects at the 12th Jerusalem Pitch Point. Melanie Goodfellow reports
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was at Rotterdam’s CineMart in January, while Yona Rozenkier and producer Kobi Mizrahi were at Cannes’ L’Atelier this year with tragicomedy Decompression, about an estranged father and son who set off across Israel on a tractor. There are also two first-time features: Uri Marantz’s ambitious animation King Khat, about an Israeli scientist-turnedinternational drugs baron; and Tali Ohaion’s When The Hinds Do Calve, about a born-again Jew whose faith is shaken by her sister’s worsening cerebral palsy. Works in progress The jury and other industry guests will also get a sneak peak at four titles in the Works in Progress competition. Roman Shumunov will present drama No Future, about a group of rappers living in the city of Ashdod who get caught up with the mafia. It won Pitch Point’s Van Leer Foundation Award at the project stage in 2015. There is already growing buzz around Alamork Marsha Davidian’s Ethiopia-set Fig Tree, which revolves around a family airlifted out of the war-torn country for a new life in Israel. It won the $50,000 first prize at the Sam Spiegel Lab in 2015. Amikam Kovner and Assaf Snir will screen extracts of Echoes, about a widower who discovers his late wife had a relationship with another man. Tsivia Barkai’s Red Heifer — a coming-of-age tale shot in the settlement of Silwan on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City — completes the quartet. “It’s a strong story set in a world we don’t get to see much on the big screen,” says Richter. A total of $28,500 in prize money will be handed out this year following the introduction of the new $15,000 DB & Opus Prize, which offers post-production services to the projects presented. Existing prizes are the Van Leer Group Foundation Award, the Cinelab Award, the Wouter Barendrecht-Lia Van Leer Award and the YAPIMLAB Award. This year’s high-profile jury features Entertainment One’s Michal Steinberg, Memento Films International sales chief Tanja Meissner, Matthijs Wouter Knol, head of Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, and Sony Pictures Classics s executive Dylan Leiner. ■
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SPOTLIGHT ISRAELI PRODUCERS
The enablers The Israeli industry will be out in force for JFF’s Industry Days programme, which launches today. Melanie Goodfellow profiles eight homegrown producers and teams helping to keep Israel on the international movie map
Elad Gavish Marker Films
PAST CREDITS The Congress (dir. Ari Folman), Abulele (dir. Jonathan Geva), The Burglar (dir. Hagar Ben-Asher) CURRENT SLATE Foxtrot (dir. Samuel Maoz), The Current Love Of My Life (dir. Talya Lavie), The Operative (dir. Yuval Adler), Here We Are (dir. Nir Bergman), The Day After I Am Gone (dir. Nimrod Eldar), Darwin (dir. Oren Adaf)
“I love taking a script or an idea and finding a path for it,” says Eitan Mansuri, an alumnus of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School who originally wanted to be a cinematographer before catching the producer bug during his studies. “I got involved in the projects of the other students and loved the variety of working across different genres, stories and worlds,” he says. After “working in the trenches” location scouting and line producing for veteran Israeli producers such as Eylon Ratzkovsky and Assaf Amir, Mansuri got his international break on Ari Folman’s 2013 project The Congress. “It was a sixcountry co-production. After that nothing seemed complicated,” he says. Alongside developing the new feature films by Talya Lavie and Yuval Adler, after their respective high-profile debuts Zero Motivation and Bethlehem, Mansuri has also started dipping his toe into highend TV drama. He will be out and about on the festival circuit this autumn with Samuel Maoz’s second feature, Foxtrot.
elad@markerﬁlms.com PAST CREDITS Princess (dir. Tali Shalom-Ezer), The Last Band In Lebanon (dirs. Ben Bachar, Itzik Kricheli) CURRENT SLATE Masala Encore (dir. Shira Geffen)
“I started producing at the age of just 12,” says Elad Gavish, who spent his school years pulling together drama and dance productions. He finally cut his film production teeth in 2006 in his early 20s
Naomi Levari & Saar Yogev Black Sheep Productions info@bsheepﬁlms.com PAST CREDITS One Week And A Day (dir. Asaph Polonsky) CURRENT SLATE Apple Of My Eye (dir. Yaron Shani), Fig Tree (dir. Alamork Marsha Davidian), The Prophet (dir. Ilan Rubin Fields)
Naomi Levari and Saar Yogev hooked up in life and work at the Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) a decade ago. Levari was coordinating the Israeli competitions while Yogev was the event’s executive producer. Both studied film: Levari at Sam Spiegel in Jerusalem and Yogev at Tel Aviv University. “I graduated as a director and fell in love with a producer — it’s a diplomatic marriage,” smiles Levari. The couple made a splash on the international festival scene in 2016 with Asaph Polonsky’s One Week And A Day, which premiered in Cannes Critics’ Week and then won best Israeli feature at JFF. This year, they will present Alamork Marsha Davidian’s Ethiopia-set Fig Tree as a work in pro-
8 Screen International at Jerusalem July 16, 2017
on Tali Shalom-Ezer’s debut short Living Room while studying producing at the Sam Spiegel school. The pair would go on to work together on Shalom-Ezer’s mid-length film Surrogate and debut feature and Sundance hit Princess. Some 10 years on, Gavish is riding high on the local box-office success of comedy-drama The Last Band In Lebanon at the end of 2016. “I try to work on a mix of arthouse and commercial projects but I need to do business,” he says. He is currently exploring US remake options for The Last Band In Lebanon as part of a wider international push. “Israel is a small market and I am increasingly moving in the direction of the international market, whether it be with Israeli films, remakes or TV series,” says Gavish.
Eitan Mansuri Spiro Films
gress at the Jerusalem Pitch Point event. “We don’t restrict ourselves to a genre or a method,” says Levari. “We work in documentary, TV series and feature films as long as a project is character-driven and challenging for us. We have to fall in love with what we’re producing because we have a very intimate way of working with the filmmakers.” The couple try to strike a balance between the artistic and the commercial. “We want to work on projects with the potential to find an audience,” declares Yogev.
Kobi Mizrahi KM Productions firstname.lastname@example.org PAST CREDITS Jerusalem Moments 2012, Water, Sport (all multiple directors) CURRENT SLATE The Dive (dir. Yona Rozenkier), Decompression (dir. Yona Rozenkier)
Elad Peleg Daroma Productions
PAST CREDITS Red Leaves (dir. Bazi Gete), Inertia (dir. Idan Haguel), Between Worlds (dir. Miya Hatav) CURRENT SLATE Anthrax (dir. Shai Scherf), Herzl’s Susita (dir. David Krainer), King Khat (dir. Uri Maranz), Mossad (dir. Alon Gur Arye), The Farm (dir. Golan Rise), Revenge (dir. Orna Levi)
Based near the city of Ashkelon, Elad Peleg and his producing partner Haggai Arad are proud that their joint company Daroma Productions is based outside the main Israeli cinema hubs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. “It gives us a different perspective,” says Peleg. A former behavioural science and economics major, Peleg broke into cinema as an editor before taking up the position of programme director at Sderot Cinematheque in Israel’s deep south and getting involved with the Cinema South International Film Festival. These roles mean that he is well connected with the filmmaking community in the region. Upcoming productions include animation King Khat, about an Israeli scientist-turned-synthetic drugs baron, which Peleg is presenting at the Jerusalem Pitch Point event this year. The company is also developing The Farm, a rare film capturing the settler experience about teenagers growing up on a settlement in the West Bank.
Stav Meron Pardes Films
Neta, Meron opened her own production company, Pardes Films, in 2015. She kicked off its activities with feature documentary Pepe’s Last Battle, about leftwing Jerusalemite politician Pepe Alalu, and is now in pre-production for Dani Rosenberg’s The Gospel According To My Father, about a man who evacuates his family from Tel Aviv over fears Iran is about to launch an attack. “Dani is a fully devoted director, which I find inspiring,” says Meron.
Gal Greenspan Green Productions
email@example.com PAST CREDITS Never Too Late (dir. Ido Fluk), Youth (dir. Tom Shoval), A Quiet Heart (dir. Eitan Anner), Scaffolding (dir. Matan Yair) CURRENT SLATE Shake Your Cares (dir. Tom Shoval), Back To Maracana (dir. Jorge Gurvich)
Pepe’s Last Battle (dir. Michael Alalu) The Gospel According To My Father (dir. Dani Rosenberg) PAST CREDITS
“It’s a job that requires you to put the ego aside,” says Stav Meron [inset] of producing. The budding producer graduated from the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in 2014, after completing the ambitious short film series Love Letters To Cinema. The work, which premiered at Haifa Film Festival, featured contributions from Nir Bergman, Nadav Lapid, Michael Alalu and Hagar Ben-Asher. “I was very fortunate to work with such talented creators,” she says. After working as a line producer on Bergman’s Saving
On graduating from the Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, Kobi Mizrahi worked on a series of high-profile Israeli-Palestinian short film portmanteau compilations capturing life on both sides of the conflict, including Water, which opened Venice Critics’ Week in 2012,
and Sport. “I love working on fiction shorts,” says Mizrahi. “It’s a very dynamic world that allows you to experience and live different stories in a short time.” Recent one-off shorts include Miki Polonski’s Shmama, which captures the life of a hotel worker and her daughter against the backdrop of the Dead Sea, which is playing at JFF before heading to Locarno later this summer. Mizrahi is also making headway into feature film production. He was at Cannes L’Atelier in May with Yona Rozenkier’s bittersweet comedy Decompression, about an estranged father and son who travel across Israel on a tractor, which they will also present at the Jerusalem Pitch Point event. The pair are also gearing up for the shoot in September of The Dive, about an intense reunion between three bothers in their home kibbutz on the Israeli border with Lebanon.
Gal Greenspan decided early in his producing career that he needed to look beyond Israel for finance. Having turned to crowdfunding for his 2011 debut feature production Never Too Late, he started exploring the global co-production scene for Youth by Tom Shoval. “We were the first Israeli project to attend Hong Kong,” says Greenspan, referring to the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). “It’s not only about the finance,” he adds. “Co-producing creates a bigger family for the film.” Greenspan’s company Green Productions, co-founded with Roi Kurland in 2009, boosts cash-flow by providing production services for commercials. It will launch financing on Maya Kenig’s breastfeeding themed dark comedy Milk at Jerusalem Pitch Point, and also unveil portmanteau film The Quarters at the festival.
Keren Michael Dori Media Paran
The Wanderer (dir. Avishai Sivan) Echoes (dirs. Amikam Kovner, Assaf Snir), Let It Be Morning (dir. Eran Kolirin), The Non-Conformists (dir. Eliran Malka) PAST CREDITS
Keren Michael studied cinema at the Camera Obscura in Tel Aviv where one of her classmates was director Avishai Sivan. On graduating, the pair co-founded a production company making short films without state funding before going on to make Sivan’s first feature The Wanderer, which premiered in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2010. Michael joined Israeli media group Dori Media Paran (DMP) in 2013 to spearhead its move into the production of auteur features with commercial potential, and a slate of exciting films is now coming together. Michael will be at Jerusalem Pitch Point this year, alongside DMP chief Yonathan Paran, to present Amikam Kovner and Assaf Snir’s drama Echoes. DMP will screen 20 minutes of the film, which is now in post-production, in the works-in-progress selection. Other projects on DMP’s slate include Eran Kolirin’s Let It Be Morning, which is due to shoot next February, as well as Eliran Malka’s The Nons Conformists — previously titled The Unorthodox. ■
July 16, 2017 Screen International at Jerusalem 9
IN FOCUS UK DEBUT FILMMAKERS
Best of British Three UK debut features have been selected for Jerusalem this year, reflecting a growing confidence in local indie filmmaking, discovers Charles Gant
I Am Not A Witch
Agatha A. Nitecka.
rogramming this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF), artistic director Elad Samorzik did not set out to spotlight the rising talents of any particular nation. Nevertheless, UK observers were quick to notice that three local filmmakers have been selected for the 2017 edition with their debut features: William Oldroyd for Lady Macbeth, Francis Lee for God’s Own Country and Rungano Nyoni for I Am Not A Witch. The buzz around these three titles, and the commercial success of the one that has started to reach paying audiences — Lady Macbeth — is creating a new sense of optimism for the UK independent film sector. “It’s a good year,” agrees Ben Roberts, director of the Film Fund at the British Film Institute (BFI), which backed all three titles and annually invests $27m (£21m) in development and production. “It’s really gratifying and very exciting.” Lady Macbeth, which is not in any way related to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Scottish schemer, is an adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 Russian novella Lady Macbeth Of The Mtsensk District, transplanted to Victorian northern England. Florence Pugh stars as a teenage bride trapped in a loveless marriage who takes control of her own destiny with tragic consequences. Oldroyd and writer Alice Birch, having both forged successful careers in the theatre, immediately put their names
‘One advantage for starting a bit older is I had stories in my head for years’ Francis Lee, director
God’s Own Country
on the film industry map following Lady Macbeth’s unveiling at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Awards recognition Next out of the starting gate was God’s Own Country, which premiered at Sundance in January and won the director prize for Lee in the festival’s World Dramatic Competition section. A contemporary gay love story set in a remote farming community in Yorkshire, the film is very much a personal project for Lee, who grew up on his family’s sheep farm before moving to London to become an actor. I Am Not A Witch, which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, is a satire about a nine-year-old girl’s exile in a witch camp — a refuge for women accused of witchcraft. Writer-director
10 Screen International at Jerusalem July 16, 2017
Nyoni, who was born in Zambia but grew up in Wales, stayed in a witch camp in Ghana to research the film and returned to Africa to shoot in Zambia. The three films could scarcely be more different in terms of subject matter and execution and, explains Samorzik, “there was no active agenda in programming them. But it has certainly been a great year for British independent cinema, as well as fascinating new voices from the UK. All three are major highlights in our festival programme this year.” What unites the trio, observes Roberts, is that “they are all incredibly original pieces in either approach or concept”. Roberts also points out that, while these practitioners may be new to feature filmmaking, “they are not fresh out of school. These are people who have been devel-
oping their craft for a while, sometimes in different disciplines in the case of Will and Alice. They each excited us in their own way, but the unifying element is that these are serious filmmakers who have a maturity in their approach.” Nyoni is aged 35, Oldroyd is 37 and Lee, who gave up acting seven years ago and worked in a scrapyard to pay for three self-financed short films, is 48. “One advantage for starting a bit older is I had stories in my head for years,” says Lee. “One thought was, ‘What would my life have been if I never left Yorkshire?’ The landscape and people were never out of my head.” Both Lady Macbeth and God’s Own Country started their journey to the screen via the UK’s iFeatures scheme, which is run by Creative England, the BFI, BBC Films and Creative Skillset to work with films with a base budget of
‘It’s a good year. It’s really gratifying and very exciting’ Ben Roberts, BFI Film Fund
$453,000 (£350,000), though this can be topped up with other finance. Lady Macbeth, which is produced by feature first-timer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, stayed the course with iFeatures, while God’s Own Country was developed there, later finding production finance from BFI Film Fund, Met Film Post and Paul Webster’s PW Pictures. The film is produced by first-time feature producers Manon Ardisson and Jack Tarling. Protagonist Pictures handles international sales on both titles. Lady Macbeth, with its period setting, might not suggest itself as an obvious candidate for a low-budget production, but the contained setting and focus on a small group of characters made the approach viable. “A lot of people thought we were crazy [making a low-budget period film],” says Cronin O’Reilly, “but we knew iFeatures asked for bold, audacious projects.” The creative principals agree that the tight budget helped with the intimacy of the story. As Birch says, “there is distance in some period films — this is more human.” In the case of God’s Own Country, Lee used landscape to amplify his protagonist’s journey, as Johnny (Josh O’Connor) achieves intimacy, self-belief and hope for the first time in his life through his connection with new hired hand, Romanian shepherd Gheorge (Alec Secareanu). “I wanted it to feel immersive, that we’re inside this guy’s head,” Lee explains. “Films about Yorkshire have massive shots of the land, but growing up I never looked up; it was cold, my hands were in my pockets. The only landscape I wanted was when Johnny is shown it for the first time, if you like, through Gheorge’s eyes.” I Am Not A Witch received early support from Film Agency Wales and was also backed by the BFI, Film4, the CNC’s Cinémas du Monde, the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund, Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund and Locarno’s Vision Sud East Development Fund, with Kinology handling international sales. The film was produced by Emily
Morgan, a 2015 Screen International Star of Tomorrow, with France’s Juliette Grandmont. Morgan acknowledges that shooting in Zambia brought challenges in terms of lack of infrastructure, but these were more than made up for by the authenticity of shooting there and the passion of locals to help enable Nyoni’s vision. “Everybody was so wonderfully helpful,” she says. “There was a real enthusiasm for the project from the government and crew members.” Ticket master While both God’s Own Country and I Am Not A Witch have yet to be released in the UK or any other territory, Lady Macbeth began its rollout in April, grossing an impressive $1.03m (£800,000) so far in the UK and $3.2m worldwide. Key territories so far are France ($986,000), Spain ($633,000), the Netherlands ($310,000) and Italy ($129,000). The film has just been released in the US via Roadside Attractions. Following a period when a number of British directorial debuts may have enjoyed acclaim from festivals and critics, but struggled to connect with cinema audiences — titles such as Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist and Guy Myhill’s The Goob among them — the success of Lady Macbeth is encouraging the whole sector. Commercial expectations for the September 1 UK release of God’s Own Country, via indie distribution-exhibition dynamo Picturehouse, are high. Roberts, for one, is enthused. “What’s gratifying about Lady Macbeth is that an original approach towards the genre of the period film has got the attention of audiences,” he says. “And when you see success, it instills confidence in others. It’s important to us. The point in developing talent is so that talent can thrive and grow in terms of what they want to do.” Particularly pleasing to the BFI is that the commercial success has come not by chasing it. Says Roberts, “We’re saying: you can come to us with original ideas. You can be thought-provoking, you can take chances, you don’t have to think first and foremost about your box office, the idea being that you will deliver original work that audiences respond to. Because the market isn’t second-guessable. Hits are normally surprises, especially outside the studio model. On that basis, I think it’s a better hand for us s to go for broke.” ■ Additional reporting by Wendy Mitchell
THE NEXT LIST
More UK debuts gaining buzz
Apostasy Dir Dan Kokotajlo Siobhan Finneran (TV’s Happy Valley) stars in this drama about a faithful Jehovah’s Witness forced to shun her own sister because of a religious transgression. Kokotajlo was a Screen International Star of Tomorrow in 2015.
Beast Dir Michael Pearce National Film & Television School graduate and 2011 Screen International Star of Tomorrow Pearce presents Johnny Flynn and Geraldine James in what is being described as “a love story trapped within a horror ﬁlm”.
Old Boys Dir Toby MacDonald Alex Lawther, who played the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, stars in this reworking of the Cyrano de Bergerac premise set at a British boys’ boarding school. MacDonald is a double Bafta-nominated shorts director.
Pin Cushion Dir Deborah Haywood A 2007 Screen International Star of Tomorrow, shorts director Haywood makes her feature debut with a Derbyshire-based teen drama about schoolgirl friendships and rivalries that spiral out of control.
Possum Dir Matthew Holness Holness, co-creator and star of UK comedy-spoof TV series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, directs Sean Harris and Alun Armstrong in a supernatural horror fused with a psycho-drama about a disgraced children’s puppeteer confronting his stepfather.
July 16, 2017 Screen International at Jerusalem 11
REVIEWS Reviews edited by Fionnuala Halligan firstname.lastname@example.org
I Am Not A Witch Reviewed by Wendy Ide
Ismael’s Ghosts Reviewed by Lisa Nesselson A jubilantly complex tale within a tale — possibly within yet another tale — Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts exudes the lived-in familiarity of a director who knows his characters inside out and the panache of someone whose creations are still full of surprises, even for him. An attentive moviegoer should be able to navigate this free-standing episode even though it is peppered with recurring elements from other Desplechin outings. And while it would be criminal to delineate which aspects should be taken at face value and which are best filed under narrative sleight-of-hand, here is the basic armature. Filmmaker Ismael (Mathieu Amalric, in his seventh escapade with Desplechin) describes himself as a widower. He married Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) when she was just 20 years old. A few years later she vanished without a trace. Her eighty-something father Henri Bloom (Laszlo Szabo), a noteworthy film director, has been grieving her loss for two decades. Since he is a creative type from Central Casting, Ismael drinks to excess, smokes and takes multiple pills to combat the horrific nightmares that plague his sleep. Almost 20 years after Carlotta’s disappearance, Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) meets Ismael at a party and they embark on a serious, mutually satisfying relationship. Then, one day on the beach at their country house, a woman claiming to be Ismael’s wife shows up out of nowhere. Cue emotional rollercoaster ride. None of this is presented in conventional linear fashion; the stories bounce around in time but are suspenseful and intriguing. An awful lot of separate strands are satisfyingly wrapped up before the closing credits roll, including one with Louis Garrel as Carlotta’s brother. Some might protest that Amalric, Cotillard and Gainsbourg have all played similar roles before, and they would be right. But if you need a flustered male or a distant, possibly loony female, why not hire the best? Desplechin loves mirrors and reflections. His camera zooms or dollies in on faces until they fill the screen. He even toys with vintage Hollywood-style intimations of mental upheaval (rear projection! double exposure!) as Ismael rides in a train compartment to Desplechin’s birthplace, the industrial town of Roubaix.
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MASTERS Fr. 2017. 114mins Director Arnaud Desplechin Production companies Why Not Productions, France 2 Cinema International sales Wild Bunch, sales@ wildbunch.eu Producer Pascal Caucheteux Screenplay Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr, Léa Mysius Cinematography Irina Lubtchansky Editor Laurence Briaud Production design Toma Baqueni Music Grégoire Hetzel Main cast Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Laszlo Szabo, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel, Alba Rohrwacher, Hippolyte Girardot
The people of nine-year-old Shula’s village do not waste time crying over spilt well-water — they look for someone to blame. And Shula (Margaret Mulubwa), new to town, with no family, is the obvious choice. Denounced as a witch, she is removed to a government-run travelling witch camp. This arresting first feature from Zambia-born, Wales-raised Rungano Nyoni crafts a framework of superstition and ritual, onto which is hung a vividly realised, if somewhat enigmatic, portrait of a child’s life. Broader points about the cynical marketing and commercialisation of tradition hit home, but a final denouement is a little too cryptic. With its original subject matter and striking photography, however, I Am Not A Witch should have no shortage of festival offers. Theatrical interest is also likely to be strong. The main story starts with a glimpse of the incident that seals Shula’s fate — she happens to be standing in the path when a woman drops a container of water. Spooked by the child’s level gaze, the woman hurries away, abandoning her bucket. Well-meaning Shula fills it for her and leaves it on the step of the woman’s hut — apparently, a clear indication that she is a witch. The girl is hauled up before a local policewoman and, intimidated into muteness, neither confirms nor denies the allegations. She is subsequently taken to the witch camp and, like all the other women there, bound to a white ribbon to stop her from flying away. Shot in and around Zambia’s capital city Lusaka, and cast with non-professionals, the story is approached with a kind of deadpan eccentricity. That some of the performances are a little unpolished hardly matters — in fact the sometimes declamatory delivery only heightens the sense of matter-of-fact oddness. There is humour too, at least in the first half of the film before the weight of her new life and responsibilities causes little Shula to fold in on herself. For the most part, Nyoni’s sparse storytelling gives the viewer just enough to piece together the connections of the narrative. It is just at the end that we are left adrift; a few extra scenes might have clarified a pivotal plot point.
UK-Fr. 2017. 90mins Director/screenplay Rungano Nyoni Production company Clandestine Films, Soda Pictures International sales Kinology, gmelin@ kinology.eu Producers Juliette Grandmont, Emily Morgan Cinematography David Gallego Editor George Cragg, Yann Dedet, Thibault Hague Production design Nathan Parker Main cast Henry Phiri, Margaret Mulubwa, Nancy Mulilo
» Ismael’s Ghosts p12 » I Am Not A Witch p12 » The Venerable W p13
» Lady Macbeth p13 » I Am Not Madame Bovary p14
» Newton p14 » Holy Air p15 » Winnie p15
Lady Macbeth Reviewed by Jonathan Romney
The Venerable W Reviewed by Lee Marshall Buddhism is the religion of peace, love and understanding, so there is something deeply wrong about a Buddhist monk who calmly spouts anti-Muslim hate speech and incites ethnic riots. The monk in question, an influential Burmese figure known as The Venerable Wirathu, is the subject of the powerful final instalment of Swiss director Barbet Schroeder’s ‘Axis of Evil’ documentary trilogy, which began in 1974 with General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait and continued in 2007 with Terror’s Advocate, a portrait of controversial lawyer Jacques Verges. The film is a chilling corrective to accounts of Burma that paint its recent history as a fight between prodemocracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi (by no means a heroine in this particular story) and a repressive military regime. In the era of Trump (Wirathu is a fan), Farage and Le Pen, it shines a timely light on the mechanisms of nationalistic rhetoric. That should be enough to guarantee The Venerable W a foothold in mature, docfriendly markets despite its potentially niche subject matter, and it appears ripe for VoD distribution. Wirathu is presented partly through an interview Schroeder filmed in the monk’s Mandalay monastery, where he talks openly about what he sees to be the Muslim threat to Buddhist purity, all the while making racial slurs. Schroeder’s method at first is to simply dwell on the awful fascination of the ‘Fascist Buddhist’ paradox, with passages promoting the brotherhood of man from the religion’s sacred texts, voiced by French actress Bulle Ogier, underlining the contradiction. Wirathu’s rise from provincial obscurity to rabble-rouser is then charted, including his nine-year stretch for inciting ethnic hatred after riots in 2003 in his hometown of Kyaukse and elsewhere. In the film’s second half, Wirathu returns to the campaign trail after his release in 2012 and the mood of the film turns darker. News and mobile-phone footage captures the pogroms launched against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority. By now we have worked out who the monk really is. Forget the robes: he is a classic extremist politician, fanning tensions through the crudest of rhetoric then visiting the affected regions to ‘restore order’. Shot under the noses of a repressive regime, The Venerable W is a stirring film about ethnic cleansing in action.
SPIRIT OF FREEDOM
Fr-Switz. 2017. 100mins Director Barbet Schroeder Production companies Les Films du Losange, Bande a Part International sales Les Films du Losange, b.vincent@ filmsdulosange.fr Producers Margaret Menegoz, Lionel Baier Cinematography Victoria Clay Mendoza Editor Nelly Quettier Music Jorge Arriagada Main voiceover Bulle Ogier
Not an adaptation of the Bard, but in other ways as Shakespearean as it gets, Lady Macbeth is a powerfully austere 19th-century drama. Superbly acted and executed, this spare piece of storytelling marks an assertive feature debut for theatre and opera director William Oldroyd, following prize-winning Sundance-screened short Best. Using its low budget to inventively economical effect, the austerity of this iFeatures project makes it a more challenging theatrical proposition than more mainstream UK heritage dramas, but its emotional and narrative intensity, not to say its potent erotic charge, have driven it to a worldwide box office of more than $3m ahead of its US launch next month, alongside strong festival presence. Written by playwright Alice Birch, the film is based on Lady Macbeth Of The Mtsensk District, the 1865 novel by Nikolai Leskov that inspired Shostakovich’s opera of the same name. Birch’s adaptation sets the action in rural north England in the 1860s, where young Katherine (Florence Pugh) is seen marrying an older man, Alexander (Paul Hilton), in an alliance that is strictly business. Tight compositions and formal symmetries in Ari Wegner’s photography emphasise that Katherine is a prisoner in this male household, where her only companion is maid Anna (impressive first-timer Naomi Ackie). When Katherine intervenes to save Anna from abuse by a group of her husband’s workers, headed by groom Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), her defiance towards Sebastian’s macho taunting develops into flirtation and the two become lovers. As Katherine takes drastic measures to protect her new freedom, she comes to live up to the film’s title. Lady Macbeth is one of several recent attempts to free UK costume drama from the prettifying conventions that so often stifle it, but it is also a powerfully political film. It not only shows how patriarchy creates its own nightmare nemesis, but also muses disturbingly on questions of race in British history, with no punches pulled in the depiction of the abuse of the black maid Anna. As Sebastian, Jarvis transcends the Heathcliffian brooding-hunk aspect of the role to create a man as much victim as lover. Pugh is altogether a revelation, her Katherine starting out as coy Victorian bride before she emerges as a terrifying anti-heroine of Greek tragedy dimensions.
2016. UK. 88mins Director William Oldroyd Production company Sixty Six Pictures, iFeatures International sales Protagonist Pictures, info@ protagonistpictures.com Producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly Screenplay Alice Birch Cinematography Ari Wegner Production designer Jacqueline Abrahams Editor Nick Emerson Music Dan Jones Main cast Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Naomi Ackie, Paul Hilton, Christopher Fairbank
July 16, 2017 Screen International at Jerusalem 13
Newton Reviewed by Sarah Ward
I Am Not Madame Bovary Reviewed by David D’Arcy A woman’s campaign to restore her honour after a fake divorce and charges of sexual misdeeds fuels Feng Xiaogang’s relentless satire of Chinese corruption and hypocrisy. With Fan Bingbing as the intrepid plaintiff, I Am Not Madame Bovary is also a j’accuse on the plight of women who dare question authority in that country. This moral tale with no promise of a happy ending should ride on Fan’s stardom to reach Chinese audiences globally. The comedy of Chinese bureaucracy may seem arcane to a non-local public, yet the story of a woman wronged will help pave the way. Cinephiles from the other end of the spectrum will also be drawn to the refinement of Feng’s aesthetic experiment —the use of a circular frame — that needs to be seen on a big screen. I Am Not Madame Bovary is Feng’s adaptation of Liu Zhenyun’s 2012 novel I Am Not Pan Jinlian — the Chinese term for a promiscuous woman. Here, she is Li Xuelian (Fan), a villager accused of being an adulteress. She also petitions a local court to void her divorce from her husband, which she claims was a fake contrived to get a second residence. As the court rejects her claim, her remarried ex-husband, Qin Yule (Li Zonghan), repeats the charge of adultery, and Li aims up the judicial ladder toward Beijing. Chinese audiences are likely to recognise their government here as layers of careerists and opportunists in dark suits. Other will see the story as a fable about an ordinary person who pays for overstepping her position. As Li, Fan is a tempest on a mission here, humourless as she threatens to shame any official in her way. Guo Tao, as her accomplice Datou, plays to his comic strengths. The laughs are anything but politically correct, complete with Datou’s violent consummation of his love for her, a rape she then says she enjoyed. Women’s empowerment is a rocky road that gets rockier. The film’s look is as striking as Fan’s performance. The circular frame puts action and its setting in sharp focus, like a miniature Chinese painting, suggesting corruption is as rooted in the culture as art. Besides having the splendour of stage designs, these stunning and serene tableaux provide breathing room in a lurching pursuit of the powerful that can be exhausting. Feng may have sacrificed part of his frame, but he has expanded the political vocabulary of mainstream Chinese films.
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MASTERS China. 2016. 128mins Director Feng Xiaogang Production companies Beijing Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Beijing Skywheel Entertainment, Huayi Brothers Pictures, Zhejiang Dongyang Mayla Media International sales Wild Bunch, sales@ wildbunch.eu Producer Hu Xiaofeng Screenplay Liu Zhenyun Cinematography Luo Pan Production designer Han Zhong Music Du Wei Editor William Chang Suk Ping Main cast Fan Bingbing, Guo Tao, Da Peng, Zhang Jiayi, Yu Hewei, Li Zonghan
Finding humour in the tenuous nature of democracy might be a hard task on the global stage at present; however, it is simpler than it sounds in Newton’s darkly comic exploration of one official’s attempt to uphold the election process in India. The second film from writer/director Amit V Masurkar displays a sense of chaos and absurdity, while remaining aware of the drama of reality. Indeed, it is laughs and tension, and the interplay between the two, that give Newton its momentum; the film suffers when it surrenders to the inertia of buoyant, warmly scored montages (peppered liberally throughout). Still, the mostly successful handling of its topical premise is just one of the reasons Masurkar’s follow-up to 2014 comedy Sulemani Keeda deserves to travel on the festival circuit. In the titular Newton (Rajkummar Rao), a rule-enforcing college graduate turned government worker, Masurkar and his co-writer Mayank Tewari have crafted an intriguing figure: rigid in his beliefs, unprepared to cope with anyone who does not share his mindset but willing to fight for what’s right, proper and just. Introduced with his family while watching a news report about the carnage caused by communist guerrillas in the jungles of Chhattisgarh — an incident that opens the feature, contextualising the events to follow — Newton does not appear to be troubled. At a workshop for volunteer polling staff he is similarly unfazed by conflict, or about how his dogged mindset might be perceived. Even when he is sent to Chhattisgarh to collect 76 votes from oppressed indigenous inhabitants, he is still quick to reject any suggestion that deviates from regulations. Unsurprisingly, several battles brew. Military representative Atma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) imparts a dose of reality — that no one cares about the election and will not turn out anyway for fear of reprisals — but Newton refuses to be swayed from his mission. Masurkar grounds Newton’s behaviour in character, not just in ideals, building a portrait of a man rallying to retain his strict sense of self in the face of an uncertain world. Understanding Newton as a person, not just a symbol of unyielding principles, makes both the amusing and terse altercations all the more effective, particularly as the story’s path and message become increasingly clear.
SPIRIT OF FREEDOM
India. 2017. 106mins Director Amit V Masurkar Production company Drishyam Films International sales Drishyam Films, email@example.com Producers Manish Mundra, Pramila Mundra Screenplay Mayank Tewari, Amit V Masurkar Cinematographer Swapnil S Sonawane Editor Shweta Venkat Production design Angelica Monica Bhowmick Music Naren Chandavarkar, Benedict Taylor Main cast Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav
Winnie Reviewed by Sarah Ward
Holy Air Reviewed by Wendy Ide This Israeli comedy sees two imminent events — a Papal visit to his hometown of Nazareth and the birth of his first child — prompt Adam (played with shambling charm by writer/director Shady Srour) to devise an ingenious money-making scheme. He will sell ‘holy air’, harvested from the peak of Mount Precipice, to the devout pilgrims who visit the city. Holy Air provides a vivid snapshot of modern life in an ancient city and, while it struggles to maintain energy and focus, a combination of wry humour and strong sense of place should recommend it to festival programmers. Theatrical prospects are less certain, although not out of the question. The focus on an Israeli community in which Christians, Jews and Muslims co-exist gives the film a distinctive flavour that sets it apart from much of the other cinema from this region. With its Nazareth backdrop and deadpan approach, the film most closely resembles Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention. The film opens (and closes) in a cacophonous, nearstatic traffic jam. In the opening sequence, Adam, an Arab Christian, looks on in consternation as his wife Lamia (Laëtitia Eïdo) brandishes a home pregnancy kit and proceeds to use it, there and then, in the car. The positive result is confirmed by a second test, taken at home while Adam reclines glumly in the bath. His happiness at the result is tempered by the fact he needs to raise his game as a provider and a businessman. The stress is compounded by his father’s cancer diagnosis, and the fact the pregnancy is only given a 50% chance of being viable. Despite the terminal disease and the imperilled foetus plotlines, Srour keeps the film tonally light. A jaunty waltz is a recurring motif on the score. There is an enjoyable scene in which an altercation in a traffic jam (a recurring theme) gets out of hand. The story unfolds from Adam’s point of view, at the expense of his wife. And that is a pity: Lamia is a deliciously forthright character who deserves more screen time. A sequence in which she terrifies a male television crew with a discussion of Arab women’s sexual politics is one of the high points of the film. Despite a few too many underpowered scenes that drive the story forward, Holy Air ultimately makes its point. Making any kind of life is a constant struggle in a city defined by uncertainty and instability.
ISRAELI FEATURE COMPETITION Isr. 2017. 81mins Director/screenplay Shady Srour Production company Tree M Productions, Cinema Virgin International sales New Europe Film Sales, jan@neweuropefilmsales. com Producers Ilan Moskovitch, Shady Srour Cinematography Daniel Miller Editor Naaman Bishara Music Habib Shehadeh Hanna Production design Miguel Merkin Main cast Shady Srour, Laëtitia Eïdo, Shmulik Calderon, Tareq Copti, Dalia Okal, Bian Anteer
SPIRIT OF FREEDOM
Since her husband’s incarceration in 1964, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has been viewed as everything from an activist to an enemy, as Pascale Lamche’s thorough documentary details. Sharing a title with the Jennifer Hudson-starring 2011 biopic, this wide-ranging Winnie marks the return of Lamche (Black Diamond) to the Mandela family, following her 2010 television documentary Accused #1: Nelson Mandela. “It’s like it happened yesterday,” Winnie says of her 1958 wedding, her eyes still fiery yet her voice weary as she recalls pivotal chapters from her life. It is far from surprising Winnie begins its journey in the obvious place: with her marriage to Nelson, which would define much of her life, as well as her standing in the public eye. Given her husband remained imprisoned for 27 years while she worked — against fierce opposition — with the African National Congress to bring their anti-apartheid message to the world, their union proves a catalyst for the documentary rather than its primary focus. While Nelson Mandela casts an inescapable shadow on Winnie’s story, her words and actions make their own impact. That is where this densely packed and informative documentary’s resonance originates, as it presents a string of highly publicised events from a different perspective. It might be apparent where the film’s sympathies reside, but this is by no means a straightforward missive of support. Lamache’s efforts to unravel not only the tale at hand but also the reasoning behind the many conflicting views surrounding her subject are deftly handled. Interwoven into the story is a dissection of women in the political realm. The role Winnie was expected to play, as well as the controversy she continues to attract, make strong candidates for further examination, much like the woman herself and her multi-layered quest for personal and societal freedom. Working chronologically through key events and memories, Lamche may favour a standard compilation of talking heads but the documentary’s passion and penchant for juxtaposition shines though. And, though brimming with information, the filmmaker and editors Giles Gardner and Paul De Heer keep the pace quick and the varying sources of footage tightly deployed, while cinematographers Olivier Raffet, Felix Meyburgh and Nic Hofmeyr give a crisp sheen to the contemporary visuals.
Fr-Neth-S Afr. 2017. 98mins Director Pascale Lamche Production company Pumpernickel Films International sales Cinephil, philippa@ cinephil.com Producer Christoph Jörg Executive producers Eric Tavitian, Tim Belda, Tanaz Eshaghian Co-producers Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix, Steven Markovitz, Iikka Vehkalahti Cinematographers Olivier Raffet, Felix Meyburgh, Nic Hofmeyr Editors Giles Gardner, Paul De Heer
July 16, 2017 Screen International at Jerusalem 15
SCREENINGS Edited by Paul Lindsell
» Screening times and venues are correct at the time of going to press but subject to alteration.
SUNDAY JULY 16
(France, Italy) Studiocanal. 117mins. Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville. French, English (English and Hebrew subtitles). The story of the illicit love between a young war widow and an openhearted priest in a small French village during the Nazi occupation.
(France, Netherlands, South Africa) Cinephil. 98mins. Dir: Pascale Lamche. English (Hebrew subtitles). An intriguing documentary portrait of Winnie Mandela, who throughout her husband’s imprisonment led the anti-apartheid movement. The film examines her portrayal as a controversial figure while Nelson was crowned a national hero.
Melville Retrospective Cinematheque 2
Spirit of Freedom Cinematheque 2
10:00 LEON MORIN, PRIEST
(US) Visit Films. 61mins. Dir: Kevin Ford, Smriti Keshari, Eric Schlosser. English (Hebrew subtitles). The story of nuclear weapons, from the Trinity nuclear test in 1945 to the present day, interweaving fascinating archival footage with an original score by electronic ensemble The Acid.
(US) Mongrel. 82mins. Dir: Joshua Z Weinstein. Yiddish (English and Hebrew subtitles). Menashe, a widowed ultra-Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, fights for custody of his son. The rabbi gives him a week to prove he’s worthy.
Panorama Cinematheque 1
11:00 I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
SUNDAY JULY 16 11:00 I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE
(Mexico, Netherlands) Mundial. 103mins. Dir: Ernesto Contreras. Spanish, English (English and Hebrew subtitles).
A young linguist, hopes to preserve an endangered ancient dialect. He travels to the jungle to locate two surviving speakers who have not spoken to each other in 50 years. Panorama Lev Smadar
See box, right
11:30 GAZA SURF CLUB
(Germany) 87mins. Dir: Mickey Yamine, Philip Gnadt. Arabic, English (English and Hebrew subtitles). A heart-warming documentary about a group of young Gaza residents determined to realise their aspirations through surfing. Despite economic distress, Hamas rule and the conflict with Israel, they manage to find a bit of freedom on the waves. Spirit of Freedom Cinematheque 3
(India) Pascale Ramonda. 106mins. Dir: Amit V Masurkar. Hindi (English and Hebrew subtitles). A rookie civil servant stationed in the jungle during elections in India, faces both guerrilla forces
and the locals’ apathy toward the democratic process. Spirit of Freedom Cinematheque 1
12:30 HOLY AIR
(Israel) 81mins. Dir: Shady Srour. Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, Italian (English and Hebrew subtitles). When Lamia becomes pregnant, Adam decides it’s time to make it big and provide for his family by entering the biggest local business — religion. He begins to sell… Holy Air. Israeli Feature Competition Cinematheque 2
13:15 I AM NOT A WITCH
(UK, France, Germany) Kinology. 90mins. Dir: Rungano Nyoni. English, Zambian Dialects (English and Hebrew subtitles).
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Nine-year-old Shula is denounced as a witch and sent to witch camp. Told that if she tries to escape she will turn into a goat, Shula must decide whether to accept her fate or risk everything for freedom. Panorama Lev Smadar
13:45 THE WOMAN WHO LEFT
(Philippines) Films Boutique. 226mins. Dir: Lav Diaz. Tagalog (English and Hebrew subtitles). After 30 years, Horacia is acquitted for a crime she did not commit and released from prison. Searching for her son, Horacia’s generous character is crushed by a desire for vengeance. International Competition Cinematheque 3
104mins. Dir: Veronica Kedar. Hebrew (English and Hebrew subtitles). In a perfect world, Lily would have grown up in a normal family. But you can’t always get what you want… and Lily finds herself in her living room staring at four dead bodies.
celebrate manhood but instead experience the bitterness of parting with youth while struggling to resist their desires.
Israeli Feature Competition Cinematheque 2
(France) Wild Bunch. 114mins. Dir: Arnaud Desplechin. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). Ismael is a film director whose life becomes a cinematic plot. He must choose between the woman in his life and an old flame who reappears after a 20-year disappearance.
(Germany, Bulgaria, Austria) Films Boutique. 119mins. Dir: Valeska Grisebach. German, Bulgarian (English and Hebrew subtitles). German construction workers are sent to an isolated Belgian village. A fascinating portrait of masculinity, Western culture and its attitude toward other cultures. International Competition Cinematheque 1
15:00 WHEN THE DAY HAD NO NAME
(Macedonia, Belgium, Slovenia) Cercamon. 84mins. Dir: Teona Strugar Mitevska. Macedonian (English and Hebrew subtitles). A group of boys from Macedonia set out on a nocturnal adventure to
Panorama Yes Planet
15:15 ISMAEL’S GHOSTS
Masters Lev Smadar
(US) 108mins. Dir: Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau. English, Afrikaans (English and Hebrew subtitles). Straddles the US and Africa to present a complex portrait of the world of hunting. Interwoven with impressive cinematography, a challenging debate evolves: could hunting guarantee the survival of endangered species? Spirit of Freedom Yes Planet
Debuts Cinematheque 1
(US) Dogwoof. 91mins. Dir: Alexandre Philippe. English (Hebrew subtitles). It took Hitchcock 78 set-ups and 52 cuts to create the shower scene in ‘Psycho’. Sixty years later, director Alexandre Philippe examines the scene that redefined the power of the cinematic experience. Cinemania Lev Smadar
18:00 RACHEL AGMON
(Israel) 52mins. Dir: Yair Agmon. Hebrew (English and Hebrew subtitles). Yair is now exposed to two completely conflicting narratives, which make up one story: funny, wacky, full of lies, grandeur, wretchedness — and love. Israeli Documentary Competition Cinematheque 3
19:15 INTERSECTIONS COMPETITION
100mins. The Experimental Cinema and www.screendaily.com
FURTHER JFF COVERAGE, SEE SCREENDAILY.COM
Video Art Competition 2017. Intersections Cinematheque 2
19:30 PATTI CAKE$
(US) Fox Searchlight. 108mins. Dir: Geremy Jasper. English (Hebrew subtitles). Patti Cake$, a white, overweight, charismatic and enormously talented rapper, dreams of escaping her tedious life in New Jersey. With the help of good friends and her grandmother, Patti sets out to conquer the rap scene. Gala Yes Planet
19:45 ANA, MON AMOUR
(Romania) Beta Cinema. 127mins. Dir: Calin Peter Netzer. Romanian (English and Hebrew subtitles). Toma and Ana fall in love, but reality soon sets in — Ana’s anxieties surface, Toma’s father objects to the relationship, and intimacy gives way to alienation.
Match Factory. 89mins. Dir: Aktan Arym Kubat. Kirghiz (English and Hebrew subtitles). The life of a humble family man from a remote village in Kyrgyzstan is turned upside down when he is caught stealing a horse. Panorama Lev Smadar
22:00 FREE FIRE
(UK) Sony. 90mins. Dir: Ben Wheatley. English (Hebrew subtitles). Boston, 1978: two gangs meet in a deserted factory to finalise an arms deal. A petty quarrel becomes a chaotic gunfight. Gala Yes Planet
20:00 THE CAKEMAKER See box, below
22:15 LADY MACBETH
(China) Wild Bunch. 128mins. Dir: Xiaogang Feng. Mandarin (English and Hebrew subtitles). The story of a provincial woman’s struggle to clear her name.
(UK) Protagonist Pictures. 89mins. Dir: William Oldroyd. English (Hebrew subtitles). England, 1865: a romance between a young woman sold into marriage and an estate worker leads the heroine down a dark path.
Masters Cinematheque 2
Debuts Cinematheque 3
I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY
THE DESERT BRIDE
(US, UK, Canada) Voltage Pictures. 110mins. Dir: Taylor Sheridan. English (Hebrew subtitles). An American hunter and FBI agent join forces to investigate a rape and murder that shocks a Native American reservation.
(Argentina, Chile) Cite Films. 78mins. Dir: Cecilia Atan, Valeria Pivato. Spanish (English and Hebrew subtitles). Teresa ventures far for a new job. In the desert she loses her bag but this small tragedy becomes the best thing that’s happened to her in years.
(Kyrgyzstan, France, Germany, Netherlands)
Gala Lev Smadar
Debuts Cinematheque 1
International Competition Cinematheque 3
MONDAY JULY 17 10:00 ARMY OF SHADOWS
(France, Italy) 145mins. Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville. French, German, English (English and Hebrew subtitles). In his most personal, and perhaps greatest film, Jean-Pierre Melville follows an underground, anti-Nazi group during the days of the French Resistance. Melville Retrospective Cinematheque 3
THE PARIS OPERA
(France, Switzerland) Les Films du Losange. 110mins. Dir: JeanStephane Bron. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). A fascinating documentary that takes us behind the scenes of the Palais Garnier, one of the world’s most prestigious theatres. The film was shot over one performance season, the first under Stephane Lissner’s artistic direction. Panorama Cinematheque 1
10:15 THE VENERABLE W
(France, Switzerland) Les Films du Losange. 100mins. Dir: Barbet Schroeder. Burmese, French (English and Hebrew subtitles). A fascinating, disturbing documentary about Ashin Wirathu, an influential Buddhist monk who’s been leading a violent racist struggle against Myanmar’s Muslim minority for decades. Spirit of Freedom Cinematheque 2
SUNDAY JULY 16 20:00 THE CAKEMAKER
(Israel, Germany) 105mins. Dir: Ofir Raul Graizer. Hebrew and German (English subtitles).
A young German pastry maker travels to Jerusalem in search of the wife and son of his dead lover. Israeli Feature Competition Cinematheque 1
unconventional and daring musical comedy. Masters Lev Smadar
is emotionally recharged when a Romanian foreign worker is hired to help on the farm. Panorama Lev Smadar
12:15 THE CAKEMAKER
(Israel, Germany) 105mins. Dir: Ofir Raul Graizer. Hebrew and German (English subtitles). Israeli Feature Competition Cinematheque 2
12:30 THE ROAD TO MANDALAY
(Taiwan, France, Germany, Myanmar) Urban Distribution International. 108mins. Dir: Midi Z. Burmese (English and Hebrew subtitles). Lianqing escapes Myanmar to seek employment in Bangkok. As an illegal immigrant, she discovers that while her reliance on others may be necessary, it is no less dangerous. Spirit of Freedom Cinematheque 1
THE POT AND THE OAK
(Iran, Canada) 72mins. Dir: Kiarash Anvari. Farsi (English and Hebrew subtitles). The married life of an Iranian theatre persona collapses when he discovers he is sterile. Debuts Cinematheque 2
14:45 A TASTE OF INK
(France) Versatile. 80mins. Dir: Morgan Simon. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). Since his mother died, a young heavy metal musician’s relationship with his father has become increasingly confrontational. When a new woman enters his father’s life, unexpected emotions surface. Panorama Yes Planet
12:45 BECOMING CARY GRANT
(France) 85mins. Dir: Mark Kidel. English (Hebrew subtitles). Drawing upon a hidden autobiography and rare footage, this fascinating film tells Cary Grant’s life story from his lonely childhood in Britain, through becoming a film icon, to his final days. Cinemania Lev Smadar
(France) Wild Bunch. 114mins. Dir: Arnaud Desplechin. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). Masters Cinematheque 3
JEANNETTE, THE CHILDHOOD OF JOAN OF ARC
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
(France) Luxbox. 115mins. Dir: Bruno Dumont. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). The childhood of Jeanne d’Arc — the French military leader turned saint — in an
(UK) Protagonist Pictures. 104mins. Dir: Francis Lee. English (Hebrew subtitles). A young sheep breeder whose feelings are repressed through hard labour and excessive drinking,
(Hungary) Magyar Filmunio. 91mins. Dir: Ferenc Torok. Hungarian (English and Hebrew subtitles). A Hungarian village in August 1945: the festive ambience of the clerk’s daughter’s wedding is tainted when two Orthodox Jews arrive carrying a mysterious trunk. Have they come to claim their lawful inheritance? International Competition Cinematheque 1
15:15 THE ORNITHOLOGIST
(Portugal, France, Brazil) Films Boutique. 117mins. Dir: Joao Pedro Rodrigues. Portuguese, English, Mandarin, Mirandese, Latin (English and Hebrew subtitles). An ornithologist’s boat is swept away by currents. Rescued by two Chinese pilgrims, he’s driven » in to the forest where
July 16, 2017 Screen International at Jerusalem 17
19:15 A GENTLE CREATURE Se box, left
20:00 GOLDEN EXITS
(US) 94mins. Dir: Alex Ross Perry. English (Hebrew subtitles). A beautiful Australian exchange student uncovers the hidden pain of two Brooklynite families. Panorama Cinematheque 3
20:15 LA FAMILIA
MONDAY JULY 17 19:15 A GENTLE CREATURE
(France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands) Wild Bunch. 143mins. Dir: Sergei Loznitsa. Russian (English and Hebrew subtitles). Upon receiving a
mysterious encounters force him to take extreme action. Masters Cinematheque 3
16:00 TONY CONRAD FILMS
67mins. Shorts by artist Tony Conrad. Intersections Cinematheque 2
16:30 SUMMER 1993
(Spain) New Europe Film Sales. 96mins. Dir: Carla Simon. Catalan (English and Hebrew subtitles). After her parents’ death, six-year-old Frida spends the summer at her aunt and uncle’s home in rural Catalonia, where she finds it hard to cope with her loss and adapt to a new life. Debuts Yes Planet
16:45 24 FRAMES
(Iran, France) Charles Gillibert. 120mins. Dir: Abbas Kiarostami. Farsi (English and Hebrew subtitles).
package addressed to her imprisoned husband, a woman travels to the distant prison. But her journey becomes an absurd odyssey into Russia’s heartless darkness. Masters Lev Smadar
Abbas Kiarostami, the legendary filmmaker who died last year, employs multiple cinematic devices in this compilation of 24 segments, each depicting a photograph or painting and what might have occurred before and after the image was frozen in time. Masters Lev Smadar
(France) Pascale Ramonda. 100mins. Dir: Claude Lanzmann. French, English and Korean (English and Hebrew subtitles). Documentarian Claude Lanzmann takes us to North Korea, 1958, to a random, yet life-changing encounter between a young Frenchman and a nurse at the Red Cross hospital in Pyongyang.
(English subtitles). Two holocaust survivors live in a tiny apartment. The film portrays their daily routine – getting up, getting dressed, every little action takes eternity, creating a flex in time. Israeli Documentary Competition Cinematheque 3
TONY CONRAD: COMPLETELY IN THE PRESENT
(US) 103mins. Dir: Tyler Hubby. English (Hebrew subtitles). Tony Conrad was one of the best kept secrets of the 1960s New York avantgarde scene. Filmed over 20 years, Tyler Hubby’s documentary builds an exhilarating case for why the irascible Harvardtrained mathematician, was a notable art activist and iconoclastic wizard. Intersections Cinematheque 2
18:30 THE PRINCE OF NOTHINGWOOD
(France, Germany) 85mins. Dir: Sonia Kronlund. Dari, French (English and Hebrew subtitles). A fascinating, funny, and touching documentary about Afghanistan’s most popular filmmaker, who over the past 30 years has directed, produced, and acted in more than 110 movies.
(Israel) 72mins. Dir: Tal Haim Yoffe. Hebrew
Cinemania Yes Planet
Masters Cinematheque 1
18 Screen International at Jerusalem July 16, 2017
(Venezuela, Chile, Norway) Celluloid Dreams. 82mins. Dir: Gustavo Rondon Cordova. Spanish (English and Hebrew subtitles). Andres and his son Pedro live in a bad neighbourhood in Caracas. When Pedro pushes his luck too far, they escape to save their lives. Debuts Yes Planet
(Israel, Poland) 92mins. Dir: Matan Yair. Hebrew (English and Hebrew subtitles). Seventeen-year-old Asher is split between his charismatic teacher and his brash father, who wants him to take over his scaffolding business. Israeli Feature Competition Cinematheque 1
(Germany, Bulgaria, Austria) Films Boutique. 119mins. Dir: Valeska Grisebach. German, Bulgarian (English and Hebrew subtitles). German construction workers are sent to an isolated Belgian village. A fascinating portrait of masculinity, Western culture, and its attitude toward other cultures. International Competition Cinematheque 2
22:00 THE BEGUILED
(US) Universal Pictures. 94mins. Dir: Sofia Coppola. English (Hebrew subtitles). During the American Civil War, a wounded Yankee soldier finds refuge in a
girls’ boarding school, and stirs up a whirlwind of desires. International Competition Yes Planet
22:15 LOVER FOR A DAY
(France) SBS International. 76mins. Dir: Philippe Garrel. French (English and Hebrew subtitles). Separated from her boyfriend, heartbroken Jeanne knocks on her father’s door. But her welcome is matched by a baffling discovery: her father’s new girlfriend is his student, and also Jeanne’s age. Masters Lev Smadar
ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE
(South Korea, Germany) Finecut. 101mins. Dir: Hong Sang-soo. Korean (English and Hebrew subtitles). A young artist involved in a complex relationship with a married film director visits a strange city. International Competition Cinematheque 1
22:30 TEHRAN TABOO
(Germany, Austria) Celluloid Dreams. 90mins. Dir: Ali Soozandeh. Farsi (English and Hebrew subtitles). In their desperate search for freedom and happiness, four young people from Iran are forced to break the taboos of a restrictive, Islamic society. Debuts Cinematheque 3
(Greece, Poland) Stray Dogs. 100mins. Dir: Sofia Exarchou. Greek, English, Danish (English and Hebrew subtitles). Ten years after the heats, the Olympic Village in Athens stands deserted and derelict, its facilities in ruins. Through the mischief of children who play there, the film traces the image of a lost generation, robbed of its future.
Jerusalem Cinematheque, 11 Hebron Road, 91083 Editorial Editor Matt Mueller, matt. firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 7880 526 547 Reporters Melanie Goodfellow, melanie.goodfellow@ btinternet.com, +44 7460 470 434 Tom Grater, tom.grater@ screendaily.com, +44 7436 096 420 Reviews editor and chief film critic Fionnuala Halligan, finn. email@example.com Features editor Charles Gant, charles. firstname.lastname@example.org Production editor Adam Richmond Sub editors Paul Lindsell, Richard Young Advertising Commercial director Scott Benfold, scott. email@example.com International sales consultants Gunter Zerbich, gunter. firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 7540 100 254 Pierre-Louis Manes, pierre-louis.manes@ screendaily.com Ingrid Hammond, ingridhammond@mac. com VP business development, North America Nigel Daly, nigeldalymail@ gmail.com Sales and business development executive, North America Nikki Tilmouth, nikki. screeninternational@ gmail.com Production manager Jonathon Cooke, jonathon.cooke@ mb-insight.com, +44 7584 333 148 Marketing executive Charlotte Peers, charlotte.peers@mbi. london Chief executive, MBI Conor Dignam Published by Media Business Insight Ltd (MBI) Zetland House, 5-25 Scrutton Street, London, EC2A 4HJ United Kingdom Subscriptions help@subscribe. screendaily.com
Panorama Cinematheque 2
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