Tel Aviv University Film Festival Draws Leading International Filmmakers

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From the film "Paris on the water"Credit: TLV International Student Film Festiva

The organizers of the TLV International Student Film Festival, which opens this Saturday night, know that in order to generate lots of buzz for their festival they need to bring in big names from the film world. This year, they managed to do just that, and impressively so: The guest list is headed by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who will conduct two workshops during the festival and screen their films “The Son” (2002), “The Child” (2005) and “The Kid with a Bike” (2011). Their latest work, “Two Days, One Night” is currently being screened at Cannes, and will open the Tel Aviv Film Festival, as well as be screened at a ceremony in the in Jaffa’s Gan Hapisga (The Summit Garden).

Another, no less interesting guest, will be French director Leos Carax. Over his three-and-a-half-decade career, Carax has only directed five feature-length films, but they were more than enough to cement his place among the most noteworthy active directors in France. His films “Lovers on Bridge” (1991) and “Holy Motors” (2012) will be screened during the festival, and Carax will also run a directing worship, open to the public.

If that’s not enough, editor Molly Malene Stensgaard will also be at the festival. Stensgaard is known for editing many of Lars von Trier’s films, including his latest, “Nymphomaniac.” Stensgaard will run an editing workshop, as well as tell of her work with the noteworthy and controversial von Trier.

Other guests include South Korean director and screenwriter Kim Jee-woon (“I Saw the Devil”), Romanian director Radu Muntean (“Boogie” and his latest film “Tuesday After Christmas”) and Chilean director and screenwriter Sebastian Silva (“Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus”).

Aside from the impressive guest list, the festival will focus primarily on the student films, as it always has. Founded by the film and television department at Tel Aviv University, the festival has garnered a positive reputation around the world since it was first held in 1986, and is currently one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, and one of the three most important student film festivals. This year, 115 films from 40 countries will be screened, in three different categories: Israeli films, international films and Mediterranean films.

The Israeli competition will include 25 films from students at Israel’s various film schools, and should provide a good glimpse into what is meant to be the future of Israeli filmmaking. Director Eytan Fox (“Yossi and Jagger” and “Walk on Water”) will serve as head judge, and will be joined by Kim Yutani, programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, Israeli producer Gal Greenspan and Afghan French director Barmak Akram (“Wajma-an Afghan Love Story”). First prize for the competition is 40,000 shekels ($11,500).

Aside from the competition, the festival will feature the first screening of a short series of documentaries created by Tel Aviv University students in a project called “Digital Relations,” which studies interpersonal relations in the digital age through the camera lens.

The festival will feature another project, “Short Film Incubator,” which will display short films created by directors currently waiting to produce their first or second feature film, who decided to use their time to create short films. Three shorts will be declared winners during the festival’s opening ceremony, and the directors will be invited to meet with festival guests and take part in workshops with them. In September, they’ll be sent to work on their short films at a “script greenhouse,” after which they’ll sent off to shoot. The festival, along with Keren Makor and Yes, will pay for their production, and they’ll be screened at next year’s festival.

Steve Tisch, described as “the only man to hold both an Oscar and a Super Bowl ring,” will make the rounds through the cinematheque halls, serving as festival president. Tisch is executive vice president of the New York Giants football team, but is also known in Hollywood as a producer, having worked on the Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump” (1994), though he also earned a Razzie award for “The Postman,” (1997), which starred Kevin Costner. Tisch also worked on “Risky Business” (1983), “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998), “Snatch” (2000) and “The Pursuit of Happiness” (2006).

From the film "Holy Motors"Credit: TLV International Student Film Festival
From the series "Digital Relations"Credit: TLV International Student Film Festival
From the series "Digital Relations"Credit: TLV International Student Film Festival
Steve Tisch, “the only man to hold both an Oscar and a Super Bowl ring,” Credit: TLV International Student Film Festival

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