The 31st Haifa International Film Festival opened last night (September 26) and runs through October 5 at the Haifa Cinematheque and other theaters around the city.

The Haifa International Film Festival, the first of its kind in Israel, this year features 70 new Israeli films and 210 film debuts from other countries.

More than 80 filmmakers and film-industry professionals from around the world are expected to be among some 300,000 visitors.

Legendary documentary director Claude Lanzmann, best known for his Holocaust documentary Shoah, is the festival’s guest of honor and will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award for Lanzmann, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this year, will also commemorate 70 years since the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

In addition to screenings of Lanzmann films, he will give a master class open to the public, and will meet with documentary film students at the festival’s pitching event.

Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf will head the jury for the Israeli Feature Film Competition. His latest film, the political satire The President, will be screened. In 2012, Makhmalbaf made the documentary The Gardener, about the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, and it will be shown as part of a retrospective of his films, among them A Moment of Innocence (1996) and The Cyclist (1987).

The 1946 romantic fantasy "A Matter of Life and Death" will be screened on Sept. 28. Photo by AppleMark
The 1946 romantic fantasy “A Matter of Life and Death” will be screened on Sept. 28. Photo by AppleMark

Peter Greenaway, the British director known for the films Nightwatching, 8 1/2 Women and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, will screen his latest film, Eisenstein at Guanajuato, a biography of director Sergei Eisenstein.

Italian actor/director/screenwriter Sergio Castelitto will present the latest film that he directed, No One Is Saved Alone.

A scene from Sergio Castelitto's "No One Is Saved Alone." Photo courtesy of Haifa International Film Festival
A scene from Sergio Castelitto’s “No One Is Saved Alone.” Photo courtesy of Haifa International Film Festival

Also from Italy, director Luca Guadagnino will attend screenings of his latest movie, A Bigger Splash, starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Fanning.

Wayne Blair, who directed The Sapphires — about a girl group of Aboriginal Australians who performed in Vietnam — will present his latest film, a thriller called Septembers of Shiraz. It stars Salma Hayek, Adrien Brody and Israeli actor Alon Aboutboul.

Acclaimed Lithuanian director Sharunas Bartas will present his latest film, Peace to Us in Our Dreams.

Charlie Chaplin expert Serge Bromberg will present a master class on October 3 to mark the 100th anniversary of The Little Tramp. He’ll do piano accompaniment to three restored short films by Chaplin during the class.

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