The Israeli Film Festival is back for its ninth year, and it's bringing more films than ever to Australian screens. If you're looking for a break from Hollywood's superhero influx look no further – personal, human stories abound here.
Kicking off the festival is Restoration, which tells the story of Yaakov, an ageing craftsman struggling to keep his furniture restoration business afloat. His son Noah is pressing him to retire, but when the gifted and mysterious Anton gets a job as Yaakov's assistant and provides a real opportunity to keep the business going, Yaakov is forced to choose between his real son and his surrogate. Nominated for 11 Ophir Awards (the Israeli Oscars), Restoration forcefully explores the relationship between father and son.
Dolphin Boy (2011)
This startling documentary was filmed over four years. When Morad, an Arab teenager, is brutalised by bullies at school, he becomes introverted and speaks to no one. His father can't bear to put him in a mental institution, so instead takes Morad to Eilat where he undergoes a unique therapy: swimming with dolphins. Amazingly, it works, but too well. Morad blocks his traumatic past from his memory and refuses to go home.
As teenagers, two Palestinian girls sneak through an Israeli army checkpoint to see a movie, but encounter Israeli soldiers. Years later, the women reunite in London to reflect on the events that changed their lives. This psycho-sexual drama sparked controversy in Israel upon release and vied for the coveted Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Out of the Blue (2008)
Shabtai and Herzel are junk peddlers, spending their days riding their motorcycle through Tel Aviv looking for used furniture to salvage. At night, Shabtai dreams of seduction by a sexy redhead. When Shabtai spots a fashion model identical to his dream woman, he and Herzel set off on a journey to meet her. This atypical urban fantasy was nominated for nine Ophirs, which should be all the prompting you need to check it out.
The Other Son (2012)
It's bad enough when an Israeli-Jewish couple discover their 18-year-old son is not their own. Matters are complicated to say the least when it turns out that he was mistakenly switched at birth with the son of a Palestinian Muslim couple. The revelation leads to much self-doubt, soul-searching and intolerance. In other words – it's not a comedy.