Three New Movies Win Top Prizes at Haifa Festival

Three new films took home the top prizes at the 24th Haifa International Film Festival, which ended last night.

"Seven Minutes in Heaven," director and scriptwriter Omri Givon's first feature film, took the prize for best full-length feature; "Unmistaken Child," directed by Natan Baratz, received the prize for best documentary; and "Zrubavel," written and directed by Shmuel Beru, received the prize for best television drama.

"Seven Minutes in Heaven" tells the story of a young Jerusalem woman and her husband, who are injured in a terrorist attack on a city bus. Following the death of her husband, the young woman (Reymond Amsalem) embarks on a journey to rehabilitate her life, and to piece together sequences from the attack that were erased from her memory. The judges praised the director's original approach and deep understanding of a trauma victim's psychology, the excellent acting and the unusual photography, and awarded Givon NIS 120,000.

"Zrubavel" tells the story of an Ethiopian-Israeli boy who dreams of becoming Israel's Spike Lee, and follows his neighborhood and family, who reside in a neighborhood stricken by poverty, crime and drugs. This is the first full-length Israeli movie created by a team of Ethiopian-Israeli artists. "The movie effectively weaves complicated narrative elements into a television drama, and offers an insightful portrait of the lives of Ethiopians in Israel today," the judges wrote, awarding the movie NIS 35,000.

"Unmistaken Child," directed by Natan Baratz, won the NIS 40,000 prize for best documentary. The movie, filmed over more than four years, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last month. It describes the journey of a Tibetian monk to find the child reincarnation of his deceased teacher. "The work and all of its components - directing, photography, editing and soundtrack - combine to create an unforgettable cinematic experience," the judges said.

Five Israeli actors were awarded a star on Haifa's film boulevard: Yona Elian, Yoram Gaon, Eitan Green, Anat Waxman, Gabi Amrani and Ayelet Zorer. Their names will join those of other stars in the square in front of Haifa's cinematheque.