The gala opening of the 26th Israel Film Festival at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Thursday night turned into a celebration of Israel’s entertainment industry as translated by Hollywood. Producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, and Showtime President David Nevins of the TV hit series “Homeland,” based on the Israeli series, were honored with an IFF award presented by Homeland star Morena Baccarin. Israel’s Minister of Culture Limor Livnat also hailed the Academy Award nominations of 10 motion pictures from Israel, included the most recent, “Footnote.”
Noting that Iran had nabbed the Best Foreign Language Oscar this year for “The Separation,” Livnat said, “Mark my words — Iran wins over Israel only in the movies!”
Actor Jonah Hill, Oscar-nominated for his role opposite Brad Pitt in “Moneyball,” was honored by the festival with an award presented by Seth Rogen, who took stage and cracked, “Who won for best circumcision?”
“We are very pleased to honor such a dynamic and multi-faceted talent like Jonah Hill,” said festival founder and executive director Meir Fenigstein. “We are excited to present the IFF Achievement in Film Award for his remarkable accomplishments and his support for Israeli filmmaking.”
The festival’s opening film was “Restoration,” which was nominated for 11 Ophir Israeli Awards. “Restoration” also snagged the Best Film award at the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Screenwriting Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Israel Film Festival runs from March 15 through March 29 with over 30 new Israeli films including feature films, documentaries, television series and student shorts. Festival screenings will take place at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and the Laemmle Fallbrook in the San Fernando Valley.
The Israel Film Festival is a non-profit operation, presented in association with the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles and sponsored in part by the Israel Film Fund and many other organizations, including the Forward. Honorary co-chairs for the 26th Israel Film Festival are Ryan Kavanaugh and Arnon Milchan.
Rex Weiner is a Brooklyn-born, third-generation journalist who from 1992 to 1997 covered the entertainment industry as a staff reporter for Daily Variety, where his column, Lost and Found, appeared weekly. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Observer and LA Weekly, and he contributes regularly to Rolling Stone Italia. His screenwriting credits include “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” (20th Century Fox), and he was one of the first writers of the TV series “Miami Vice.” He is a founding editor of High Times magazine and a co-author of The Woodstock Census (Viking, 1979), one of the key texts analyzing the impact of the ’60s generation on American society. He is currently based in Los Angeles and in the town of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, where his fluent Spanish and capacity for tequila come in handy. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Israel Film Festival Opens in L.A.