Israeli Duo Wins Prestigious Cannes Prize for Best Debut Film

Israeli fiction writers Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret's first film, "Meduzot" ("Jellyfish"), won the Camera d'Or Prize, given to the best film made by debut directors, at the 60th Cannes Film Festival yesterday.

Meduzot, based on a script written by Geffen and directed by her and Keret, is about the life of three women in Tel Aviv.

"Everything here is so far from our lives," said Keret, wearing a tuxedo and bow tie at the glittering red-carpet award ceremony yesterday. "I haven't worn a suit since my bar mitzvah."

On Friday the film won two more awards during International Critics Week in Cannes. The French Artist and Writers Guild SACD gave Keret and Geffen their best director award, while 36 French teenagers decided that the Israeli film was the winner of the "Young Critics" award. The prize money from the two awards totals 7,000 euros.

Meduzot's success is one more notch in the belt of Israeli cinema, which has done well at international film festivals in the last few years.

Israeli filmmaker Eran Kolirin's first feature-length film, "Bikur Hatizmoret" ("The Band's Visit"), was also in the running for a Camera d'Or. According to indieWIRE, which reports on independent film, the movie has been acquired at Cannes by Sony Picture Classics for distribution in the United States and Canada. The film is about an Egyptian police band that loses its way while traveling to Israel to perform at an Arab cultural center.

Meduzot is not the first Israeli movie to receive the Camera d'Or. That honor went three years ago to director Keren Yedaya's "Or" ("My Treasure") , about a teenage girl who does all she can to support her prostitute mother.

This year's successes in the Israeli movie field began in January, when "Adama Meshugaat" ("Sweet Mud"), directed by Dror Shaul, became the first Israeli movie to win the World Cinema Jury Prize for dramatic films at the Sundance Festival. The movie depicts a 13-year-old boy living on a kibbutz in the 1970s and his complex relationship with his mentally-ill mother.

The year continued on a good note when Israeli director Joseph Cedar won the Silver Bear best director award at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival for his film "Beaufort" about the last days Israeli soldiers spent at the Beaufort outpost before Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Adama Meshugaat also scored again, with a Crystal Bear in the festival's section for child and youth films.

"From a national standpoint," Shaul said at the time, "this is undoubtedly the continuation of the success of Israeli films throughout the world."

Geffen and Keret are doing their bit to ensure that the winning streak continues.