November sees the start of the 2012 Jewish International Film Festival in both Melbourne and Sydney.
Last night, I had the good fortune or a shtik naches, if you will, to see a preview screening of Sharqiya; the story of an unappreciated Bedouin Kamel Nadjer working security at a Be’er Sheba bus station whose home is facing demolition.
At this point I must disclose that I was involved in writing the festival guide, so feel free to take both my enthusiasm for the festival and the films being screened therein with a grain of salt or scepticism. I’m writing this, not as a shameless plug for work that I’ve done, but more because I genuinely believe that this is a really good festival of films that should be seen by as many people as possible.
While Sharqiya wouldn’t have been my first choice for a preview screening, it was, it has to be said, an inspired choice by Festival Director Eddie Tamir and his team at JIFF 2012.
Wonderfully photographed (notwithstanding some hand held work that will have those prone to motion sickness reaching for the sick bag in no time at all), the film tells the story of Kamel’s family’s precarious hold on its identity in modern Israel with great skill, nuance and style; viewers aren’t belted around the head with irony, nor do the film-makers present a right or a wrong about the Nadjer family’s predicament.
Above all, Sharqiya is an excellent piece of cinematic storytelling and encapsulates what Tamir and his team have worked hard to present; a festival of movies that balances celebrating the work of filmmakers who happen to be Jewish with presenting films relevant to Jewish audiences.
If you love a night at the movies, and are looking for something beyond focus-group tested Comic book adaptions, or paint-by-numbers *cough* ‘re-imaginings‘ of bad 60’s TV sit-coms, I can’t recommend highly enough that you consider the raft of films on offer at this year’s 2012 Jewish International Film Festival.