Showcasing some of the most interesting new films to come out of Israel, the JCC Manhattan’s 5th Annual Israel Film Center Festival runs from June 8–13. But you don’t have to wait till then to get started. Nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards (the Ophir Awards) Shlomit Nehama and Emil Ben-Shimon’s “The Women’s Balcony” (Yismach Chatani) will screen at JCC Manhattan on Sunday, May 21, 8 p.m., followed by a festival kickoff party; Avi Nesher’s highly acclaimed “Past Life” follows suit on Tuesday, May 23, 7:30 p.m. Providing a timely warning about the rise both of religious fundamentalism and the misogyny it often entails, this “warm culture-clash comedy that makes sharp points” [L.A. Times] follows the fracturing of a close-knit Sephardic congregation along gender lines after the collapse of the women’s balcony in their synagogue opens the way for a new Ultra-orthodox rabbi to take over. Based on a true story, “Past Life” tracks the trans-European voyage of two Israeli sisters who attempt to uncover the startling truth about how exactly their father survived the holocaust. Both films will be released in NYC theaters by June.
*Festival runs through June 13th, with screenings on various dates. Please check the website for the most recent and comprehensive information.