I thought I’d dedicate this round-up to some of the big news from the world of the silver screen, where there has been plenty of recent Israeli/Jewish news.
Natalie Portman: A Tale of Love and Darkness
In case you missed it at the time, Natalie Portman made her directorial debut in the mostly Hebrew-language adaptation of Amos Oz’ semi-autobiographical tale. It’s a wonderfully-told (if depressing) story of the first days of the State of Israel, and is well worth watching.
Ewan McGregor: American Pastoral
Why is this Jewish? McGregor, who like Portman is making his directorial debut, married into the tribe, and keeps a Jewish home. The story, in which again like Portman, McGregor also plays the lead role, is based on a book by Jewish literary icon Phillip Roth and is centred around the life of a Jewish businessman, Seymour Levov. It opened this week in the US, and you can read McGregor’s interview with JTA here.
Joseph Cedar: Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
With Natalie Portman taking on a Hebrew language film set in Israel, it was only fair that Israel returned the favour. Joseph Cedar is the acclaimed director of two of Israel’s recent Oscar shortlisted films, Beaufort (2007) and Footnote (2011) (both excellent, Beaufort is probably my favourite Israeli film), and Norman is his first English-language effort. He directs a cast including Richard Gere, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Hank Azaria and Israel’s Lior Ashkenazi, to tell the story of a small-time “fixer” who befriends an Israeli Member of Parliament, who then unexpectedly becomes Prime Minister. The film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and is headed for public release early next year.
Elite Zexer: Sand Storm
In a first, Israel’s Oscar nominee this year is an Arabic-language film. Sand Storm tells the story of a mother and daughter in the very conservative and traditional Bedouin community in Israel. It is Zexer’s first feature-length film, and is a promising indicator of things to come.
Away from cinema, readers of the world-renowned Condè Nast travel magazine have selected both Tel Aviv (17) and Jerusalem (28) in their global top 40 cities. Jerusalem is down from 11th last year, whilst Tel Aviv has risen from obscurity to take its place on the list.
Finally, a fascinating new Jewish exhibition is set to open in Florence this week to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the dreadful floods that hit the city in 1966. The exhibit, entitled “And the Waters Receded” opens on Thursday at the National Library in the city. Hundreds of books, documents and Jewish religious items are to go on display, although many thousands of items more were damaged beyond repair when the River Arno burst its banks. The event is one of many which will be taking place in the city, and you can read more about it here.
Liked this post? Tell your friends. Didn’t like it? Tell them anyway, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
-The Wandering Jew-