Audiences pack the Sderot Cinematheque for the South Film Festival. (Photo from Festival website http://csf.sapir.ac.il)
Audiences pack the Sderot Cinematheque for the South Film Festival. (Photo from Festival website http://csf.sapir.ac.il)

The 14th South Film Festival opens in Sderot today and will stage the best of Israeli and international filmmaking.

“In its 14th year, the South Film Festival continues to support and showcase daring, subversive, and breakthrough filmmaking on all levels, in both feature films and in documentaries,” says Hagar Saad Shalom, Festival Director.

The Festival’s international program will host world-leading filmmakers Sergei Loznitsa, Karim Ainoz, Ali Khamrayev, Sandra Kogut, and Pia Marais, whose acclaimed films have received awards at Cannes, Venice, and Berlin film festivals.

There are also 23 films  — animation, documentaries, dance videos, TV pilots, feature films — by graduates of the School of Film and Television of Sapir College.

The South Film Festival will host a tribute to Moshe Mizrahi, one of the most important figures in Israel’s film industry, who was also the only Israeli director to win an Academy Award for his highly acclaimed Madame Rosa.

Special previews at the festival include One Going Down, directed by Elad Keidan, and The Customer of the Off Season, the first film ever directed by Mizrahi, to be screened for the first time in Israel.

“We are proud to host new filmmakers and give them an opportunity to show their first films. Last year at the festival, Gett [Divorce], Zero in Human Relations, and Old Son were shown in special previews, and went on to became the most talked-about films of the year. I believe that the films shown at this year’s festival will be equally successful,” says Saad Shalom.

The festival kicks off with the documentary P.S Jerusalem by Danae Elon, daughter of Beth and acclaimed author, Amos Elon. The film tells her family’s story over the course of three years and reveals a portrait of Jerusalem and Israel today.

The closing feature film is Circles by Lee GIlat, starring Lior Ashkenazi and Assy Levy. The film tells of a 13-year-old boy who is given the honor of carrying the Torah scroll on Simchat Torah. The honor ignites a long-standing tension between his parents and the boy’s proud moment becomes a nightmarish struggle instead.

The festival takes place from June 7 to June 11 at the Sderot Cinematheque, and is open to the public, free of charge.