If you've had it with the holidays and are in need of some escapism, look no further than the Haifa International Film Festival, which kicks off September 19 in the northern Israeli city.
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This year's event features 280 films from around the world, including 70 locally made movies, offering plenty of opportunities to transport yourself to alternate worlds and realities.
The festival opens with Israeli director Ari Folman's newest picture, "The Congress," his highly anticipated follow-up to "Waltz with Bashir," which blends live-action and animation and stars Robin Wright.
The rest of the cinematic fare is divided into more than a dozen categories, such as "Filmmaker of Tomorrow," "Window to the Muslim World," "Jewish Identity," "Midnight Madness," "Haifa Classics," and more.
The program also features special tributes to legendary Italian director Federico Fellini, Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, and Swiss director Xavier Koller. British director Peter Greenaway will present a program of 35 of his short films spanning four decades, and also discuss the short-film format and the creative process. (Greenaway has been urged to boycott the festival, which he has thus far resisted.)
Other notable events include a master-class with documentarian Marcel Ophuls, who presents the director’s cut of his memoir, "Ain't Misbehavin'" (September 24), a master-class on cinematic images of the immigrant and "other" with Marc Isaacs and Kiyoko Miyake (September 25), and – for the first time in Israel – a storytelling workshop from the people behind The Moth, a popular live storytelling event and podcast (September 23).
As Haaretz critic Uri Klein pointed out, there are also a handful of wonderful classic films on offer here – just in case you feel like travelling space and time.
Haifa International Film Festival, September 19-28, at the Haifa Cinematheque and other venues around the city.
Single tickets: NIS 42; Soldiers, seniors, Students, and the disabled: NIS 37; Subscription 8+2 free: NIS 336
For more information, call (04) 833-8888 or go to www.haifaff.co.il.