Controversial 'Lipstikka' Makes Berlin Film Fest

Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman
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Nirit Anderman
Nirit Anderman

The International Berlin Film Festival announced yesterday that Jonathan Sagall's "Lipstikka" will be among the eight titles competing for the coveted Golden Bear Award.

Clara Khoury and Natali Atiya in "Lipstikka"

The screening of "Lipstikka" at the Berlin festival, which opens on February 10, will be the film's world premier.

"Lipstikka," starring Clara Khoury and Natali Atiya, is a psychological thriller that depicts the complicated relationship between two Palestinian women, childhood friends, who move to London to begin a new life. One evening, while reminiscing, they recall that as teens they went through a checkpoint to see a Mel Gibson movie in Jerusalem and met Israeli soldiers.

"Lipstikka" sparked a media storm in Israel in January, after it was reported that the film's promotional material, used for fundraising purposes, included a comparison between the Israeli occupation in the territories and the Holocaust. In response to criticism for backing the film, the Israel Film Foundation withdrew its funding.

Sagall, who was in mid-production at the time, said the film made no such comparison, and the document in question had been published by mistake and was written by a production staff member who was later fired.

Referring to the controversy, Sagall, who wrote and directed "Lipstikka," told Haaretz by phone from London yesterday: "What happened, happened. It is completely unimportant to me now. I prefer to look ahead. I may look back someday, but right now I simply don't have time for that."

He added: "I am very excited and very happy, especially for all the people who were involved in making this film."

The film, an Israeli-British co-production, was also backed by the Makor Foundation for Israeli Films, a foundation representing the association of movie theater owners in Israel, and private British investors.

It is Sagall's second film, following "Urban Feel," released in 1999, which also competed in the Berlin festival that year.

Sagall first became known as an actor, at age 17, playing the role of Bobby in the 1979 film "Lemon Popsicle."

Also competing in Berlin will be Turkish, American and German films.

Outside the competition, the film "Coriolanus" based on the eponymous Shakesperian tragedy, is actor Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut. It Fiennes alongside Vanessa Redgrave.

In 2007, the Golden Bear Award went to director, writer and producer Joseph Cedar for his film "Beaufort."