Israeli Film 'Bethlehem’ Wins Top Award at Venice Days Festival

Yuval Adler’s debut film, which received 12 Ophir nominations, will premiere in Israel at the Haifa Film Festival during the Sukkot holiday

Israeli filmmaker Yuval Adlet's debut work 'Bethlehem' won the won the FEDEORA award for best film last Friday at the Venice Days section of the 70th Venice Film Festival. The winning film was chosen by the London-based Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Venice Days, which was established in 2004, is the Venice Film Festival’s version of the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Twelve films from all over the world are screened during that time.

“Bethlehem,” which received 12 Ophir (the Israeli “Oscar”) nominations, will premiere in Israel at the Haifa Film Festival during the Sukkot holiday. The film is about the complex relationship between Razi, the Shin Bet security service agent in charge of the Bethlehem district (played by Tzachi Halevi) and Sanfur (played by Shadi Mar’i), the teenaged younger brother of the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the city.

Sanfur, who has grown up in his brother’s shadow, has known Razi for two years as almost a father figure. Now he must navigate between Razi’s demands and his loyalty to his brother.

Yuval wrote the screenplay together with Ali Waked, a veteran Arab journalist who covered the West Bank for many years.

Other Israeli winners

One Israeli film that took part in the Venice Film Festival's official competition was Amos Gitai's "Ana Arabia," which was shot in one take. While the film did not win a prize, Gitai received the Robert Bresson Award, which is bestowed upon directors whose work explores the "spiritual meaning" of life.

Meanwhile, Israeli filmmaker Noaz Deshe won the Lion of the Future - “Luigi de Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film. Deshe's piece, "White Shadow," was screened during the Venice International Film Critics’ Week. "White Shadow" is not an Israeli film, but a Tanzanian, German and Italian collaboration that tells the story of a Tanzanian albino boy hounded by witch doctors who believe that albinos' body parts have magical properties.  

Vered Adir