The film "Bombay Beach" by Israeli director Alma Har'el took first prize on Thursday at New York's Tribeca Film Festival in the category of documentary feature film. The prize comes with a monetary award of $25,000.
The jury, which included actress Whoopi Goldberg, actor Michael Cera and documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev, among others, noted that the choice of "Bombay Beach" was unanimous, due to the film's "beauty, lyricism, empathy and invention."
"Eva - Working Title," a short film written and directed by Dor Fadlon of Ramat Gan, also won special mention at Tribeca, where it was shown as a student film.
"Bombay Beach," Har'el's first feature-length film, is set in a ghost town on the shores of the Salton Sea in California, at what remains of a failed real estate development site from the 1960s - symbolic of the failure of the American dream. The documentary follows three local residents: a 7-year-old boy suffering from bipolar disorder; a heartbroken high-school student and football star; and a man in his eighties who is a kind of poet and prophet.
According to the Tribeca website, with her "roots as a photographer, video artist and music video director," Har'el has created "an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film - a dreamlike poem that sets the personal stories of these distinctive yet familiar characters to a stylized amalgam of observational documentary and choreographed dance, with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan, all cast against the atmospheric scenery of the titular ghost town."
The 14-minute short by Fadlon, a graduate of the film and television department at Tel Aviv University, follows an aspiring actress who appears in a violent scene and afterward realizes she is struggling to separate from her character.
The festival jury said of his film: "Characterized by bold directorial choices, this film is a disturbing and intriguing story of an actor's struggle, and examines the price paid for realizing one's dreams. We congratulate this filmmaker for his ability to fully realize this story in a unique structure."
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