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SRFTI to host Kolkata’s first Israeli film festival

The film festival is to be hosted by the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and is being organised by the Israeli Embassy in India.

Soumyadip Mullick | Kolkata |

As India and Israel celebrate their 30 years of diplomatic relations, Kolkata, too, is gearing up for the city’s first Israeli Film Festival that will screen five films to offer citizens a glimpse into the cinema of the land where art is born out of conflict and survival.

The film festival is to be hosted by the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and is being organised by the Israeli Embassy in India, in collaboration with Forum for Film Studies and Allied Arts (FFSAA) led by the eminent film director Goutam Ghose. The event will take place from 9th to 13th May at the SRFTI main auditorium. The first-day screening will begin at 5 pm.

Talking about Israeli cinema, the renowned Indian filmmaker and dean of studies, SRFTI, Ashoke Vishwanathan told The Statesman that Israeli cinema is significant in terms of how it depicts the political scenario in an art form that is both enlightening and enchanting. “The Bourekas genre of Israeli films in the 60s and 70s were popular. It depicted the class conflict and ethnic tensions that prevailed between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim. It was often shown in the form of satire or slapstick. The milieu is supreme in Israeli cinema” he points out.

“Tyrant, by the Israeli auteur Gideon Raff, made a significant impact as it skillfully encapsulates life caught in a political turmoil. The Arab-Israel conflict is a theme that finds its way into most Israeli films. His other works, such as Prisoners of War and The Spy, also have offered deep insights into some political ambitions of the state.” He highlighted that the film ‘Bethlehem’ by Yuval Adler, to be screened at the festival, will offer similar glimpses.

Recalling Kolkata’s association with Israeli cinema, he said it was at the Kolkata International Film Festival in 2013 that the eminent Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai visited the city for the screening of his movies when he also launched Mr Vishwanathan’s book ‘Bengal in the Century of Cinema and Beyond’. He said Gitai’s works have impressed international audiences through well-crafted documentaries and feature films.

The movies that are to be screened in the upcoming festival are –The ‘Ballad of the Weeping Spring’ by Beni Torati, ‘The Matchmaker’ by Avi Nesher, ‘Bethlehem’ by Yuval Adler, ‘Zero Motivation’ by Talya Lavie, and ‘Saving Neta’ by Nir Bergman. Mr Vishwanathan said SRFTI in the past has hosted Greek and Italian film festivals, among others.