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Posts Tagged ‘Arts & Culture’

Arts & Culture,Honours & Awards

Emmy win for TAU graduate’s movie

Maya Zinstein’s documentary film “Forever Pure,” about an Israeli soccer team, won an Emmy Award

Director Maya Zinstein, a Tisch School of Film and Television graduate, just won her first Emmy. Her film, “Forever Pure”, documenting the reaction of fans of the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem when two Muslim players from Chechniya were added to the roster, was awarded an Emmy earlier this month in the Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary category. In the United States, the movie was broadcast on PBS.

Zinstein first began documenting the team and its fans with the her of her cinematographer Sergei (Israel) XXX in 2013, originally for an Israeli ivestigative journalism TV show. She later continued filming, hoping to turn the materials into a proper documentary. During this period she recieved threats against her life. 

Arkadi Gaidamak

Arcadi Gaydamak, then owner of Beitar Jerusalem, attending a game. (Photo: Reuven Schwartz)
 Making a difference

“Forever Pure” documents the racist backlash against the decision of then team owner Arkadi Gaidamak to add two Muslim players to Beitar Jerusalem, the only soccer team in Israel to have never had a Muslim or Arab player on its roster. 

According to Zinstein, one of the best things to happen as a result of the movie are the changes she’s seen to the soccer culture in Israel, especially in Beitar Jerusalem itself. The team changed owners since the movie was filmed, and has made efforts to curb the racist behavior of fans. 

Watch the trailer for “Forever Pure”:


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Arts & Culture,Filmfestival

TAU film festival celebrates women in its 20th edition

World’s largest student film festival draws film students, veteran filmmakers and distinguished directors from Israel and around the world

The Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival — one of the largest and most influential student film festivals in the world according to CILECT, the International Association of Film and Television Schools — celebrated its 20th edition on June 10-16 at Tel Aviv’s illustrious Cinematheque and other locations in and around Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

Established in 1986 by students from TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, the festival is now an annual event supported by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Israel Film Council, and Tel Aviv University. The Tisch School is the only film school in the world where student filmmakers own the rights to their student films. The School’s admission policy is equally unique. All qualified applicants — high school graduates with appropriate college entrance exam scores, etc. — are admitted to the first-year BFA program. That number hovers around 200 and 65 students are invited to continue to the second year, after faculty and lecturers have had the opportunity to gauge the quality and artistic merit of their work.

TAU film festival celebrates women in its 20th edition

This year, Israeli actor and comedian Nelly Tagar (“Zero Motivation”) sparkled as emcee of the festival’s widely-attended opening ceremony, which was held at the Summit Gardens in Jaffa’s Old City. Throughout the evening, Tagar issued smart, hilarious pokes at herself, the festival event coordinators and the audience – students, academics and industry heavy weights and rising stars from Israel and abroad – while gracefully introducing the weeklong festival’s master classes, workshops, concerts and three major film competitions (Israeli, International and Independent Short Film), which included 150 films from Israel and abroad.  

“As a soldier of Israeli film,” joked Tagar, “I vow to come back to fix anything that might go wrong tonight.”

Helping the next generation of filmmakers

In his video address to the festival, TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter recognized distinguished guests such as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Dean of the Faculty of Arts Zvika Serper, Head of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television Prof. Raz Yosef, and others.

“Tonight we are celebrating the festival’s 20th edition, in which it continues to promote young and original work,” said Prof. Klafter. “The festival each year presents the future generation of local and international cinema in its various frameworks, and preserves the spirit of innovation and creativity by integrating students from the various faculties in all the management and production aspects of the festival.”

The 2018 Student Film Festival showcased more than 100 short films from 28 countries and drew more than a hundred film students, filmmakers, and directors from around the world for special screenings, master classes and cultural pop-up events across the city. The festival’s unique Film Bus, a travelling theater that brings the short films to all parts of the country, made its seventh nationwide circuit this year.


TAU film festival celebrates women in its 20th edition

“Through this festival, we are helping the next generation of filmmakers,” Danielle Angel, co-director of this year’s festival with Ori Aharon, said in an interview. “This is a place to advance their films after they graduate. This year, we are focused on women in film.  Fourteen out of the 26 student films in the Israeli Competition, for example, were made by women. Our emcee at the opening ceremony is a woman. The opening teaser for the festival screened before each program deals with the male gaze and with being a female filmmaker today. The films screened at the opening ceremony – ‘Rachel’ by Or Sinai and ‘How to Swim’ by Noa Gusakov – are by women and are based on personal narratives about women’s experiences.”

Special guests this year included some of the world’s most distinguished filmmakers: BAFTA-winning writer and director Jacques Audiard, award-winning Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, American producer Adam Mirels, Hungarian actor and director Kornél Mundruczó, Hungarian playwright and scriptwriter Kata Weber, and Romanian film editor Dana Bunescu.  

​Between cinema and fashion

This year, the festival, in cooperation with Israeli fashion house Renuar, also highlighted the special connection between cinema and fashion. A variety of fashion-focused events, such as lectures by designers and stylists and screenings of fashion films, were held across the city.  A masterclass on the global success of Israeli TV featuring speakers including Keshet International (“Homeland”, “In Treatment”) and Yes Studios (“On Spectrum”, “Fauda”) was widely attended.

The winners of the festival competitions were announced at the weeklong event’s closing ceremony held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Saturday, June 16th. The biggest prizes in the International Competition went to “Invisibly” by Hungarian film student Àron Szentpéteri. The Israeli Competition Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor’s Award for Best Film went to “Well Done” by Aryeh Asfari and Omer Ben Simon of TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film & Television. Finally, the Best Film in the Independent Competition went to “Intergalactic Samurai” by filmmaker and actress Hagar Ben Asher.

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Arts & Culture,Honours & Awards

TAU student film at Tribeca Film Festival

A short film by Atara Frish, “The Love Letter”, won a citation from the Tribeca Film Festival

Atara Frish, a student at the Tel Aviv University’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, received an honorable mention in the “Student Vision” category at the Tribeca Film Festival for her short film “The Love Letter”, starring Gili Beit Halachmi, Ravit Dor and Shir Abramov.

The film was screened in the short film competition of the festival with 55 films selected from the 4,754 short films that were submitted. “The Love Letter” was the only Israeli film screened at the competition.

The story of the film (19 min) tells of Noa (Gili Beit Halachmi), a dedicated recruits commander in the Israeli military, who receives a mysterious love letter from one of her female soldiers. The suspicion that the letter is not authentic forces her to cope with the dilemma of devotion, the restrictions of military discipline, and her yearning to feel, if only for a moment, loved.

Short films and the “Heroine” project 

“The Love Letter” was produced as part of the “Heroine” project – a full-length film that combines five short films created by five directors, produced by the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television under the artistic direction of Michal Vinik and Maya Dreifuss and produced by Efrat Cohen (Gaudeamus Productions), and screened worldwide.

Atara Frish previously directed the short film “My Beautiful Sister” (starring Moran Rosenblatt), which was screened at various festivals around the world. In the last four years Frisch has produced a variety of short films, among them “Resen (Dog Leash)”, which was part of the Cinefondation official competition at the Cannes Films Festival in 2012, and “Humor”, which was part of the Independent Film Festival in Rome in 2014.

She has also served as director of the International Student Film Festival at Tel Aviv University, the biggest student film festival in the world, where she also initiated the T-Port project: the world’s first online platform for the promotion and distribution of student films. These days Atara is working on a television series based on her short film “The Love Letter” and is writing a screenplay for her first feature length film.

TAU at Tribeca

This is not the first time that the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television has produced a short film that was part of the official competition at Tribeca. In 2011, the film “Eva – Working Title,” by Dor Fadlon, a student at TAU, won an honorable mention in the same competition.

In 2012, “Stitches”, the film by Adiya Imri Orr, won the best short film award awarded to her by actress Susan Sarandon, and in 2016, the film “The Operator,” a film by the student Ben Hakim, was also accepted into the competition.

Featured image: Atara Frish next to the poster of “The Love Letter”

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Arts & Culture

Liev Schreiber talks filmmaking at TAU

The actor, director and screenwriter gave a widely-attended masterclass at TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television

Actor Liev Schreiber visited Tel Aviv University on February 5 to give a masterclass on acting and filmmaking during his weeklong sojourn in Israel. Mr. Schreiber, also a director, producer and screenwriter, spoke at length at TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television in the framework of the upcoming Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival about his role models, his search for identity through film, and “one of the most detrimental things for actors: vanity.”

“I grew up in New York in the Lower East Side; my mother was an artist and a painter, and I was a kid who was into fantasy,” Mr. Schreiber told a packed auditorium in TAU’s David and Yolanda Katz Faculty of the Arts. “She didn’t have me in school, because she drove a cab all day, so I had to fully use my imagination. This was the start of my education, really.

Liev Schreiber talks filmmaking at TAU

“I was never interested in money, and I was not interested in academia until I discovered the classical arts. For me, acting is 50% impulse, acting and creativity, 30% directing and 20% camera work. It is a complicated, intensely collaborative relationship.”

Israeli actor Ohad Knoller (Yossi and JaggerSrugim) moderated the 45-minute discussion, which was sprinkled throughout with scenes from Mr. Schreiber’s 20-year career in filmmaking.

Mr. Schreiber’s roles have run the gamut from a dedicated newspaper editor (the Oscar-winning Spotlight) to an unscrupulous salesman (Glengarry Glen Ross), for which he was awarded a Tony, a Hollywood fixer (Ray Donovan) to a Shakespearean prince (Hamlet).

Mr. Schreiber, a character actor par excellence, has, according to the New York Times, “never settled down into a recognizable type. He’s still hurtling himself headlong into every part, trying to learn more about who he is as an artist, about what he can do … he’s an actor of variety and unpredictability, of transformation and range. He is not a brand. To admit that he’s perfect for a part would mean classifying and labeling himself. He won’t do that.”

The art of memory and preparation

During the Q&A at the Film School, attended by Raz Yosef, Head of the Tisch School of Film, students and local actors peppered him with questions about his muses, his heritage and the current political climate in the entertainment industry.

“Something that has guided me creatively always is memory,” Mr. Schreiber mused. “I have a pathological issue with memory. Fantasy and that notion of who we are is determined by memory. This defines personality and character and creativity.”

Liev Schreiber talks filmmaking at TAUIn response to a question about working with new directors, Mr. Schreiber said, “I prepare by watching their films and keeping quiet for about a week. You hope they will take you someplace unfamiliar but rich.”

“I have spent a lot of my career trying to figure out what it means to be Jewish,” Mr. Schreiber said, touching on the subject of his connection to Judaism. “My mother always talked about being Jewish and was very proud of being Jewish. She said to me, ‘You know, you are one of the chosen people.’ I said, what does that mean? I really didn’t know much about it. But everything I have ever done is an extension of my grandfather, and, for me, ‘Jewish’ was my grandfather, who used to go to Israel every year. His getting sick was a turning point for me creatively.”

When asked about the political climate and political correctness in the US, Mr. Schreiber said, “It is a hard time for America right now. But if it moves women forward an inch, it is worth it. The point is: white heterosexual men have been in power for a long time, and there is a shift and I hope it contributes more to the collective creative bubble. It can only contribute more.”


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Arts & Culture,Humanities

The “Wonder” Effect

What stories have we historically told about female heroes? Is Wonder Woman just another movie or a game-changer for the industry? TAU scientists weigh in on the strongest woman on screen.

It’s hard to find anyone these days that hasn’t heard of Superman or Batman, from little kids who dress up like them for Halloween to the adults buying movie tickets to their latest Hollywood blockbusters. But what about the most famous female superhero? Since her 1970s TV show ended, Wonder Woman has never been more popular than she is today. Where do the stories she’s based on come from? And what does her success mean for the movie world?

Superheroes in Ancient Greece

The character of Wonder Woman was created in the 1930s by William Marsten and described as an Amazonian princess. Since her inception, Wonder Woman was as important to saving the world as her male colleagues, Batman and Superman, which made her one of the most powerful female characters in the world of comic books. However, according to Prof. Rachel Zelnik-Abramovitz from The Department for Classic Studies at the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, the original Greek myths Wonder Woman is based on are very far from the way the character is portrayed today.

“The Amazons were a mythical nation of warrior women,” Dr. Zelnik-Abramovitz explains. “In the epic Greek poems they appear as the enemies of Greek men and nations. The Amazons symbolized “the other”, the “non-Greek”, and are portrayed visually as the opposite of the Greeks. For example, they rode horses and fought like men, and had a nomadic lifestyle.”

In the latest Wonder Woman movie, the Amazons are portrayed as a species that was originally created by the Greek goddess Hera, and is made up entirely of women. “That’s not how the ancient Greeks saw it,” Prof. Zelnik-Abramovitz says. “There were several versions of how the Amazons interacted with men. According to one of them, they used men from a neighboring tribe once a year for procreation, and then killed the boys born from these encounters, keeping only the girls and raising them to be warriors. According to another version, however, the Amazons had husbands who stayed home and took care of the children.”

The "Wonder" Effect

To each generation an Amazon is born

According to Prof. Zelnik-Abramovitz, the 21st century is not unique in being captivated by and re-imagining the Amazons to suit its own needs. “In ancient Rome the Amazons were portrayed as erotic figures. In the Middle Ages the attitude towards them was ambivalent, but they were considered an example of the Christian ideal of virginity. A bit later, the Amazons started appearing in stories about the New World – sailing with Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Hernan Cortes. Even later, in the 19th century, early anthropologists considered the myths of the Amazons as evidence of prehistoric matriarchal societies.”

So what’s new about the way our generation is interpreting the Amazons? “These days, the Amazons are considered prototypes of ancient superheroes, like with Wonder Woman. Which is a bit funny, since there’s a huge distance between our version of the peace-loving Wonder Woman who fights for “love” and the original wild Amazon who is the opposite of Greek culture.”

The original depictions of the Amazons in ancient Greece are pretty far from how we think of characters like Wonder Woman today, but what’s the deeper meaning of our modern interpretation? Although the character was originally created by a man, in her latest incarnation Wonder Woman has been strongly identified with women creating their own stories. According to Yaara Ozery of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, the movie “Wonder Woman” has had a profound impact on the film industry in general, and the women who are part of it in particular.

“Wonder Woman was the first superhero movie to be directed by a woman,” Yaara says.  “Because of its enormous success, new doors in Hollywood are being opened for women to direct not just superhero movies, but high budget movies in general. It proved that there’s a hunger within the general public for movies about female heroes, and so we can expect there to be more of them on our screens soon.”


The "Wonder" Effect

By women, for women

Aside from being a film scholar, Yaara is the organizer of the conference “Mirrors: Women’s Film and Television” and she believes Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been part of why the myth of the superpowered Amazon has been such a game-changer. “Other superhero movies, like “Iron Man” or “Batman vs Superman” weren’t just about a male character, but were also directed by men and were intended for a male audience. “Wonder Woman” on the other hand, is part of ‘women’s cinema’ because it assumes the viewer is a woman, to quote film researcher Teresa de Lauretis. This movie was therefore an agent of real change, for women in the film industry and outside of it.”

In spite of this, Yaara is aware that not everyone thinks “Wonder Woman” carries a positive feminist impact. The movie has been criticized for portraying the first female superhero as significantly more undressed than her male counterparts, and choosing to show impractical but revealing armor for its Amazon warriors. “You could analyze Wonder Woman’s current portrayal all kinds of different ways,” Yaara says, “from a feminist perspective. But the way the whole conversation around female superhero movies has changed because of it is a more interesting analysis, to me.”

Yaara believes even some of the leading actress’ public statements have helped change the discourse in the industry. “Just recently, Gal Gadot has come out publicly saying she won’t make another Wonder Woman movie as long as producer Brett Ratner, who’s been accused of sexual harassment, is attached to the project. On the one hand it was her own personal decision, of course, but on the other it had enormous symbolic meaning: a movie about women’s empowerment can’t prop up someone accused of sexually harassing women.”

Although “Wonder Woman” isn’t particularly true to her Greek origins, it seems in our version of the Amazon princess she’s at least helping women tell their own stories and succeed in the entertainment industry. What form will she take next? How will we remember the Amazons a few decades from now? Or a few centuries? The Classic Studies Department of  2217 will have to let us know. 

Photos: Wonder Woman in the film “Justice League” (Photo courtesy of Globusmax)

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