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24th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL IN MIAMI CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS OF ISRAELI CINEMA February 17-25, 2010 at Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal Mall Opening Night Honors Presented To Yehoram Gaon 2010 IFF Lifetime Achievement Award The Peres Center for Peace 2010 IFF Humanitarian Award Shaul Rikman 2010 IFF Founder’s Award David Keinan ~ Akiva Segal ~ Ron Reshef 2010 IFF Community Leadership Award Opening Night Film: A MATTER OF SIZE Nominated for 14 Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy) Closing Night Film: AJAMI Winner of the 2009 Ophir Award for Best Israeli Film Nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film
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24th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL IN MIAMI STARTS FEBRUARY 17, 2010 AT THE INTRACOASTAL THEATER IN NORTH MIAMI BEACH

CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS OF ISRAELI CINEMA

 February 17-25, 2010 at Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal Mall

 Opening Night Honors Presented To

 Yehoram Gaon 2010 IFF Lifetime Achievement Award

The Peres Center for Peace 2010 IFF Humanitarian Award

Shaul Rikman 2010 IFF Founder’s Award

David Keinan ~ Akiva Segal ~ Ron Reshef 2010 IFF Community Leadership Award

Opening Night Film: A MATTER OF SIZE

Nominated for 14 Ophir Awards (Israeli Academy)

Closing Night Film: AJAMI

Winner of the 2009 Ophir Award for Best Israeli Film

Nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film

Miami, February 4, 2010 -- The 24th Israel Film Festival, the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States, presented in association with the Consulate General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, will open on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 and continue through February 25 with all screenings held at the Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal Mall (3701 NE   163 St., North Miami Beach, FL. 33160, 305.949.6002).

Join celebrities, dignitaries, and sponsors at the Festival’s prestigious Opening Night Gala event as we honor legendary singer/actor/director Yehoram Gaon with the 2010 IFF Lifetime Achievement Award.  Yehoram Gaon is one of the leading and most respected singer’s in Israel for the past five decades. His career as a singer, actor, and director has flourished since his beginning with Nahal Brigade in IDF. He has produced almost fifty albums, including Ladino music,

Has performed extensively in Israel and abroad, and starred in television and feature films such as Kazablan, Entebbe, and this year’s IFF presentation Voices of Jerusalem.

In addition to Yehoram Gaon, the Opening Night Gala also feature honors being presented to the three largest Israeli banks in Florida: Bank Hapoalim, Ron Reshef, Bank Leumi USA, Akiva Segal; IDB Bank, David Keinan with the 2010 IFF Community Leadership Award; and, the Peres Center for Peace with the 2010 IFF Humanitarian Award.  A special award, the 2010 IFF Founders Award, will be presented to Mr. Shaul Rikman, CEO of Isram Realty Group.

The Opening Night Film will be the highly praised Israeli box office smash A MATTER OF SIZE, a touching, light-hearted comedy about a group of four ‘very’ overweight friends in the Israeli city of Ramle who decide to start a sumo wrestling club and escape from the dictatorship of diets espoused by their weight-loss group decide to pursue a sport where their size is an asset.  In the process they all experience a ‘coming out’ of a different kind – learning to accept themselves both in life and love.  A MATTER OF SIZE, directed by Sharon Maymon & Erez Tadmor, was nominated for 14 Israeli Academy “Ofir” awards in 2009.  The film will be release by Menemsha Films in spring 2010 and the Weinsteins have bought the US remake rights to remake in English.

The IFF’s Closing Night Film will be the highly acclaimed AJAMI, which has just been selected as one of the five nominated films vying for Best Foreign Film in this year’s Academy Awards.  A powerful crime drama set on the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood – a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views among Jews, Muslims and Christians – and told through the eyes of a cross-section of the city’s inhabitants.  The film is co-directed by Israeli and Arab-Israeli filmmakers, Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti, a statement in itself. Winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Film, AJAMI is also the first Arab-Israeli language film to represent the Jewish state at the Oscars.

The 24th Israel Film Festival will present 20 Israeli features, documentaries, and award-winning student shorts, ranging from cinéma vérité and comedies to thought-provoking, powerful dramas and documentaries.

Under the expert supervision of Founder/Executive Director Meir Fenigstein, The Israel Film Festival is presented by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., in association with the Consulate General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico. The Festival has been responsible for introducing Israeli life and culture to American audiences through the powerful medium of film, providing a comprehensive intercultural exchange and has brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the United States to share their craft. Through the past 24 IFF, more than 900,000 filmgoers across the country have experienced the best of Israeli cinema by viewing more than 800 feature films, documentaries, television dramas, short films and student shorts.

The Festival is the only film festival that will visit three American cities - Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

FEATURE FILMS

A MATTER OF SIZE (Israel / 2009) Dir: Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor

Herzl (Itzik Cohen) is an overweight, underemployed chef living at home with his mother in the Israeli city of Ramla. Unable to find a job cooking, he becomes a dishwasher at a Japanese restaurant. One day he notices his coworkers watching sumo wrestling on TV. To Herzl, sumo is a revelation, an escape from the dictatorship of diets espoused by his weight-loss group. With three hefty pals in tow, Herzl decides to pursue the sport where his size is an asset. (92 min)

AJAMI (Israel / 2009), Dir: Scander Copti, Yaron Shani

A gritty, urban crime drama brimming with raw energy and razor sharp insights, AJAMI tells the interwoven stories of Jewish, Muslim and Christian neighbors living in bloody disharmony in an impoverished Jaffa neighborhood. The sweeping cast of characters – illegal workers, gangs, drug dealers, revenge squads, corrupt police, and clandestine lovers – is all vividly portrayed by non-professional actors who are actual Ajami residents. Their disparate stories are tied together by a revenge killing and drug deal gone bad. Shuttling back and forth through time, interlocking events are witnessed through the eyes of different characters, thus changing audience perceptions and responses. (120 min.)

THE LONERS (Israel / 2009) Dir: Danny Lerner

The story of two “lone soldiers” immigrants to Israel on their own, without families, One from Russia and the other from Caucasus. Despite being highly motivated with a deep desire to excel and contribute to the country, the two fall into a predictable trap awaiting those who are foreign, alone and unprotected without home, family and homeland. The film, in Russian and Hebrew, is based on events that took place in a military prison in northern Israel in 1997. (92 min.)

BRURIAH (Israel / 2008), Dir: Avraham Kushnir.  Bruriah struggles with a childhood trauma: a life of excommunication which was forced on her following the publication of her father’s book. Bruriah goes in search of the only surviving copy of the book. Her husband sees her quest as a threat to the way of life that he has created for his family. But Bruriah is unwilling to give up, and the search for the book becomes a crusade during which she faces the compromises she has made in her life, her desires, and her limitations. (90 min.)

FOR MY FATHER (Israel / 2008), Dir: Dror Zahavi.  Terek, a young Palestinian on a suicide mission in Tel Aviv, is given a second chance when the fuse on his explosive vest fails to detonate. Forced to spend the weekend in Tel Aviv awaiting its repair, Terek befriends several Israelis, including the beautiful Keren, who has cut off contact with her Orthodox family and upbringing. With nothing to lose, Terek and Keren open up to one another, and an unlikely love blooms between two isolated and damaged individuals, raised to be enemies. (102 min.)

JAFFA (Israel / 2009), Dir: Keren Yedaya, brings forth the dramatic story of Mali, who lives with her family in Jaffa, and works with her brother and father at the family owned car repair shop. Mali falls in love with Tauffik, a mechanic in the garage. Despite underlying racism and jealousy that surrounds them, their love affair grows. When Mali finds out she is pregnant, the couple decides to run away and get married abroad. On the morning of the flight, a tragic event reshapes this couple's future. (106 min.)

SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN (Israel / 2008), Dir: Omri Givon.  For a year, Galia has tended to her own injuries as well as her boyfriend’s. The event that left him in a coma and her back badly scarred is a blur. Getting on the Jerusalem bus…the explosion…waking up in the hospital…most of Galia’s recollections come from the reports of others. But when he finally passes away, never having awoken, Galia realizes that in order to move forward, she must reconstruct this mysterious past and, in particular, that one horrific day. (94 min.)

ZRUBAVEL (Israel / 2008), Dir: Shmuel Beru.  Itzhak’s family emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel and now makes their home in a poor neighborhood, full of crime and drugs.  Gita, Itzhak's grandfather, successfully protects and unites the whole family, but a surprising chain of events undermines Gita's control over his family. The conflict is ignited by the clash of generations, specifically between the Ethiopian customs cherished by Gita and his wife and the younger generation's desire to assimilate with Israeli culture. (70 min.)

MRS. MOSCOWITZ & THE CATS   (Israel / 2009) Dir: Jorge Gurvich

When Yolanda Moscowitz, a retired French teacher, wakes up in a hospital geriatric ward, she is convinced there must be some mistake. She wants to go home immediately. But the titanium plate in her hip confines her to a wheelchair and to a lengthy convalescence. Nonetheless, Yolanda discovers a new life: she develops a close relationship with Allegra, the solitary woman with whom she shares a room; she confronts Rosie, the head nurse; and when she meets Shaul, a former soccer player, emotions surface that she thought had vanished from her life for good. Like a young woman in love, she does anything to captivate the charming Shaul. When the time comes for her to return home, it’s the last thing she wants to do. However, she has no choice and is forced to return to her life of loneliness, with its French TV game shows and the cats that wail under her window all night long. Just as she’s about to renounce her possessions to win over the friendship of a caregiver, there’s a knock at her door…. (83 min)

DOCUMENTARY FILMS

ACHZIV (Israel / 2009), Dir: Etty Wieseltier.  Documents the unique story of Eli Avivi, President of “Achziv Land,” from the time of the War of Independence when Eli appropriated a deserted Arab village called A’Ziv. He declared the village as the Independent State of Achziv and up until the present day has remained the colorful and independent ruler of his land despite the authority’s perpetual attempts to close him down. (55 min.)

A HISTORY OF ISRAELI CINEMA (Israel/France / 2009), Dir: Raphael Nadjari, investigates more than 70 years of Israeli cinema. The journey begins with the Zionist propaganda of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, establishing Jewish life in Palestine on film. The 60s introduced the fiction era, influenced by European and American cinema. In the late 60s and 70s, Israeli cinema tried to form its unique and local identity, when directors, born and raised in Israel, appeared onstage. During the 80s, Israeli cinema became an important means of political expression. In the 90s and the 2000s, we start hearing a diversity of voices, representing the different cultures forming Israeli society, and the filmmakers begin searching for individual poetic expression. The film includes interviews with filmmakers and researchers from different eras. A must see for those wanting a comprehensive knowledge of Israeli Cinema! (Presented in two parts). (103 min.)

A LEGEND IN THE DUNES (Israel/France / 2009), Dir: Ya’akov Gross.  In honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv, Ya’akov Gross presents a new documentary that follows the development of the building of the new city across from the ancient city of Yaffo. Its founders, builders and bohemia who settled there installed a new spirit in the awakening Land of Israel, in times when it was hard to believe the Zionist dream would be fulfilled. (90 min.)

THE GREEN DUMPSTER MYSTERY (Israel / 2008), Dir: Tal Haim Yoffe.  Traveling on his scooter through south Tel Aviv, film-maker Tal Haim Yoffe noticed an old photograph and some documents inside green dumpster. This was the beginning of an investigation that slowly unwound a tragic family history beginning in Lodz, and transverses a Siberian Gulag, a Samarkand sugar plant, a kibbutz in Frankfurt, a deserted Arab building in Jaffa, and an absentee IDF soldier somewhere in the sands of the Sinai Peninsula. Just an anonymous family, but a typical Israeli one. (50 min.)

THE MYSTERY OF ARIS SAN (Israel / 2009), Dir: Dani Dotan & Dalia Mevorach.  A journey into the mysterious life of Aris San, the Greek singer who became a megastar in Israel, close friend of generals and politicians, until rumors spread that he was a spy. Aris left for New York and opened a night club where Hollywood stars, politicians, and Mafiosos mingled. His friends included Anthony Quinn, Telly Savalas, Harry Belafonte, as well as the Gallo crime family. His meteoric rise ended with a drug addiction, jail and a mysterious disappearance in Budapest. (75 min.)

VOICE OF JERUSALEM (Israel / 2009), Dir: Ofer Naim.  Those who remember Jerusalem in its splendor have called it the city of gold. It is a city known for its glorious past but bleak future. Thirty six years after the film I Am a Jerusalemite, Yehoram Gaon sets off to find the Jerusalem he left behind. What happened to “Jerusalem of Gold”? Which of the three religions should have the right to control Jerusalem? Maybe this all stems from the "Jerusalem Syndrome" that causes one to lose touch with reality. Have the leaders of Israel and Jerusalem suffered from this syndrome as well? This film attempts to answer many of these questions, talking to a number of the city's residents and through the many songs sung longingly about this city, over time. (68 min.)

THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD (Israel / 2009), Dir: Regev Contes.  Three divorced middle aged men work together in a small, failing insurance agency, located in the rented apartment of the manager. Although they are highly intelligent, have a sense of humor, and well educated, they have absolutely no idea about running a business, and their company is continually on the verge of bankruptcy. The film documents the attempts of the manager's son, (Contes), to join this motley crew at the onset of the recession, and save his father's collapsing firm. 50 min.)

QUEEN KHANTARISHA (Israel / 2009) Dir: Israela Shaer-Meoded

Queen Khantarisha presents two Israeli-Yemenite women writers in their sixties: A songwriter and lyricist of love, who also stands behind some of the hottest hits that resonate in Yemeni clubs and weddings, and a Jerusalem-born poet and writer, whose writing, touching on demons, madness, rape, and rebellion, has garnered her community’s denunciation. The film explores the personal costs of straddling the ambitions of creative expression and the restraints of conservative communities requiring subservience. (53 min)

TALE OF NIKOLAI  (Israel / 2008) Dir: David Ofek

The collapse of Communism puts Nicolai, like thousands of other Romanians, out of work. He leaves his family to earn money in Israel. After three years as a “guest worker,” tired of giving most of his pay to his employer, Nicolai becomes an “illegal.” Caught and sent to prison, his life takes an abrupt turn. Noted documentarian David Ofek (The Hebrew Lesson, 2007 Festival) uses subtle irony to raise questions about who belongs in an increasingly diverse Israel. (54 min)

All films are in Hebrew with English subtitles unless otherwise noted.  Films and schedule subject to change.

Official Miami Sponsors of the 24th Israel Film Festival include: Isram Realty Group, The LeRoy and Shoshana Schecter Family Foundation, Triangle Financial Services, Diario Las Americas/La Revista, Trump International, American Friends of the Peres Center for Peace among many others as Clear Channel, Nu Image, EL AL Israel Airlines LTD., JDate LLC., and other corporations, organizations and individuals.  The Official Hotel of the 24th Israel Film Festival is The Charles Group/Holiday Inn.

Tickets for the 24th Israel Film Festival are General Admission: $12; Opening Night Gala (including reception, Awards presentation & film) $50; Seniors, Students, Children & Weekday Matinees (before 6pm) $10; All Access Single Badge (good for any festival screening except Opening Night screening and reception) $180 – limited availability; Festival pass-book are 5 tickets for $50 or 10 tickets foe $90 (Good for regular screenings. Must be exchanged for ticket at theater 30 minutes prior to screening).  Tickets, Passes, Sponsorships, Opening and Closing Night are all on sale Monday, February 8, at the Box Office, online at www.israelfilmfestival.com or by calling 1.877.966.5566.

For Press Accreditation, Screeners and Additional Materials & Information

Press Contact: Jessi Bauer

Israel Film Festival 1.877.966.5566 (toll free)

24th Israel Film Festival, February 17, through February 25, 2010 at the

Sunrise Intracoastal Cinemas (3701 NE 163 St., North Miami Beach, FL  33160, 305.949.6002),

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