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The 21st Israel Film Festival will kick off in NY

The 21st Israel Film Festival will take place in New York kicking off February 23rd and running through March 9th at the Clearview’s 62nd & Broadway Cinema. This year, the festival will showcase more than 40 new feature films, provocative documentaries, ground-breaking TV dramas, and innovative student films celebrating Israeli life and culture. Film is the international language and Israeli filmmakers continue to capture audiences through radiant images, raw human emotion and a universe of creativity. The Israel Film Festival will present over 31 U.S. Premieres.

The festival’s Opening Night Film is the sensitive drama OUT OF SIGHT, directed by Daniel Syrkin, winner, Best Director 2005 Israeli Film Academy Awards. After the suicide of her best friend, Ya’ara, a beautiful, intelligent, confident blind woman returns to Israel for the funeral. Unable to understand why, she undertakes her own investigation. The discovery of lies, disappointments and hidden truths enables her to “re-see” many things that were blocked from her sight and had nothing to do with her blindness.

The 21st Israel Film Festival’s Opening Night presentation will take place at the Directors Guild of America Theatre on February 23, 2006. That night, the festival will have the pleasure of presenting its 2006 IFF Visionary Award to Mr. David Brown. David Brown has been associated with some of the most memorable films of recent times including The Sting, Jaws, The Verdict, Driving Miss Daisy, The Player, A Few Good Men and Chocolat. He has produced such Broadway plays as Tru, A Few Good Men and Sweet Smell of Success. His awards include four Best Picture nominations by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Academy’s prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award with producing partner Richard D. Zanuck.

That night the Israel Film Festival will also present its prestigious Cinematic Achievement Award, given annually to an Israeli Film Professional for their outstanding creative accomplishments and for bringing international recognition to Israeli films and filmmakers. This year’s honoree, Haim Bouzaglo has two films featured in the 21st IFF – Janem, Janem and Distortion. Bouzaglo is a Screenwriter, Director and Producer. Born in Jerusalem in 1952, he studied literature and theatre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His multiple award-winning films include Scar, Times For Cherries, The Summer Of Avia and Fictitious Marriage. Among his television work, he served as writer and director for the acclaimed series’ “Criminal Reports,” “Shalvah” and “Zinzana.”

The 21st Israel Film Festival’s Closing Night Film will be a rare 50th Anniversary presentation of the first feature film to be produced in the State of Israel, HILL 24 DOESN’T ANSWER, directed by Thorold Dickinson. In attendance at the Directors Guild of America Theatre will be members of the 1955 film’s cast.

This year’s Centerpiece Premiere Screening is the East Coast Premiere of Eitan Londner’s NOW OR NEVER. The film takes place in 1947, and focuses on the leader of the new Jewish entity, David Ben-Gurion, during the crucial and dramatic events during the six months leading to the creation of the State of Israel. The film will screen at the Directors Guild of America Theatre on Tuesday, February 28th. That evening, the Israel Film Festival will present its 2006 IFF Humanitarian Award to a great patron of the arts, philanthropist and a gentleman who inspires us all by his dedication and lifetime commitment to humanitarian causes, Mr. Aaron Ziegelman.

Other film highlights (almost all of which will have their first-ever American screenings during the festival) include the 2005 Israeli entry in the Academy Awards, WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE, from director Eyal Halfon; METALLIC BLUES, from director Danny Verete; COMRADE from Eyal Shiray; THE SCHWARTZ DYNASTY from Shmuel Hafari & Amir Hasfari; and the Award-winning Palestinian-Israeli production THIRST from director Tawfik Abu Wael, this film defines cooperation and co-existence with its Arab/Israeli Director, Palestinian cast & Israeli crew.

For the first time, The Israel Film Festival presents a special program, Jewish Identity Through Israeli Film series. This series features compelling dramas and documentaries, from television and the cinema, which address faith, religion, social conflict, history and current events. The program is designed to offer educational value as entertainment and is geared for audiences of all ages. Among the seven films presented in the series are A GREEN CHARIOT; WASSERMAN – THE RAIN MAN; CATCHING THE SKY (Best Actress from the Israel TV Academy for Orly Zilbershatz); AS A GREAT RIVER FLOWS, JERUSALEM BREW (the Second Season - Best TV Drama Jerusalem International Film Festival) THE ASHKENAZIM from directors Dalia Mevorach and Dani Dothan and A free panel discussion on the subject of Jewish Identity will include many of the filmmakers from the series and special guest speakers.

The Festival also features a generous selection of Israeli Television Dramas, including the US Premieres of KATZHEN (winner of Best Actor from the Israel TV Academy for Deror Keren); THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, UNTIL TOMORROW COMES (Best TV Drama from the Israel TV Academy); LOVE HURTS (Winner of Best TV Series and Best Male Actor for Assi Cohen, as well as Best TV Series from the Haifa International Film Festival), and MIMON (Israel TV Academy Best TV Feature) KIBBUTZ, BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY.

At the close of the festival, the Israel Film Festival presents the Panavision Audience Choice Awards. This year, the winning filmmakers will receive at the Closing Night Ceremony a $60,000 Panavision 35mm Camera Package for one month of shooting for their next film to be shot in Israel.

Over the past 21 years, the Israel Film Festival has welcomed to the United States hundreds of premieres and helped to bring Israel's finest film talents to American audiences. Prior honorees of the festival include Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, Bernie Brillstein, Milos Forman, Michael Fuchs, Amos Gitai, Adam Greenberg, Gale Anne Hurd, Norman Jewison, Larry King, David Linde, Sidney Lumet, Penny Marshall, Mike Medavoy, Arnon Milchen, Tom Rothman, James Schamus, Elie Wiesel and Laura Ziskin

Under the skillful supervision of Founder/Executive Director Meir Fenigstein, the Israel Film Festival and its parent company, The IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, has showcased more than 550 of the best of Israel's growing film and television industry. Introducing Israeli life and culture to American audiences through the powerful medium of film and providing a comprehensive intercultural exchange. The Chairman of the 21st Israel Film Festival is Meyer Gottlieb, COO of the Samuel Goldwyn Company.

“No matter what the political situation has been like in Israel or America, the IsraFest Foundation has—thanks to continued support of our sponsors and audiences—put on a festival every year, showing people the richness and humanity of Israeli life, and the power of the creative arts even in the midst of political conflict. “ --Meir Fenigstein

Through the years, more than 700,000 filmgoers in Los Angeles, New York and Miami have experienced the best of Israeli cinema. This year the 21st Israel Film Festival has lined-up special events including an Opening Night Gala, a Centerpiece Celebration Gala, a special program highlighting Jewish Identity Through Israeli Film, an Evening of Documentaries, and a Student Shorts Marathon at the JCC Manhattan Theater. Following the New York event, the 21st Israel Film Festival continues in Miami from March 22-30, 2006.


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