Events to include Spotlight on Israeli Television, Family-Friendly Films and Tribute to Ronit Elkabetz with guests to feature actors, directors, and producers including Hagai Levi, Lior Ashkenazi, Asi Levi and Shemi Zarhin


New York, NY – May 19, 2016 – JCC Manhattan’s 4th Annual Israel Film Center Festival today announced its lineup of special events and guests to complement its previously announced lineup of film and television screenings.  The festival, which presents the best of Israel’s groundbreaking new cinema and television programming, features conversations with filmmakers, writers, and actors and runs from June 2 – 9, 2016 at JCC Manhattan with additional screenings in Westchester locations and in collaboration with Long Island’s Gold Coast International Film Festival.
The festival’s June 2nd launch event is the New York premiere of BABA JOON, the winner of the 2015 Ophir Award for Best Film (Israel’s most prominent film award), followed by a conversation with director Yuval Delshad and star Navid Negahban, known for his role as Abu Nazir in Homeland.


Other exciting Q&As include writer-director Shemi Zarhin (Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, The World is Funny) following screenings of the Israeli box office hit THE KIND WORDS at JCC Manhattan and JCC Midwestchester and celebrated Israeli actors Lior Ashkenzai (Walk on Water, Late Marriage) and Asi Levi (Wedding Doll, Aviva My Love) following their film ENCIRCLEMENTS.

Hagai Levi, creator of acclaimed, award-winning television series including HBO’s “In Treatment” and Showtime’s “The Affair”, will be in attendance to present the first episode from his series “The Accursed” as part of the Festival’s Spotlight on Israeli Television. The Spotlight on Israeli Television will also include episodes of “Imported”, a hilarious fish-out-of-water soccer comedy set in London and “Fauda”, a political thriller that has quickly become one of Israel’s highest-rated television series of all time.

Director and master visual effects artist Jonathan Geva will speak with filmgoers following a screening of family fantasy film ABULELE. The Family-Friendly Films event also includes a free showing of Sesame Street-esqe puppet musical GUAVAS.

On a solemn note, the Israel Film Center will also feature a rooftop memorial screening of SHIVA (SEVEN DAYS) in honor of beloved director and actress Ronit Elkabetz (Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, The Band’s Visit).

The festival will also premiere Elie Weisel’s DAWN followed by a conversation with the Director, as well as SABENA HIJACKING: MY VERSION the true story of the rescue of a plane in 1972 with interviews with three Israeli Prime-minsters who were part of the event. Screening will be followed by a conversation with the producer: Natan Dinnar, as well as the only American survivor of the hijacking.
Tickets for the Israel Film Center Festival are on sale now. For additional information, please visit: israelfilmcenter.org/festival


Please see below for guest biographies:

Actor, Encirclements

Lior Ashkenazi is an Israeli screen and stage actor. Born to Sephardi Jewish immigrants from Turkey who moved to Israel in 1964, he grew up in the Neveh Yehoshua neighborhood in Ramat Gan. His father, Shmuel, worked as a printer. His mother, Victoria, was a housewife. His parents spoke Ladino at home, and it was his first language. At the age of 16, in the wake of problems in school, he moved to Kibbutz Regavim. In the Israel Defense Forces, he served as a paratrooper. He studied acting at Beit Zvi. After graduating in 1994, he worked for Habima and Beersheba Theater. He starred in many plays at Beit Lessin Theater under the direction of Zipi Pines, one of his teachers at Beit Zvi. He also appeared with the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, although Beit Lessin remained his home base.

Director, Baba Joon

Yuval Delshad began working in the film industry in 1994 as a director, screenwriter, editor, and producer of documentaries, television series and commercials, including ” Judith: A Story of a Convert ” (2001) and “Regards from the War ” (2014).

His debut feature film is “Baba Joon” (2015), a Persian language film about Iranian-Israelis which won the Ophir Award for Best Picture.

Director, Abulele

Jonathan (Yoni) Geva is a Film director, screenwriter and VFX artist. Born in Jerusalem in 1980, Among his works are numerous commercials for leading international brands as well as interactive video projects and interactive storytelling development as part of one of Israel’s high profile tech companies – Interlude.

Jonathan studied BFA (Hons) Film and Television at Tel-Aviv University. His thesis film: ONE:NIL premiered at the Palm-Springs International Film Festival and went on to participated in many film festivals, winning several awards for best short film.

ABULELE is Jonathan’s debut feature film and it is undoubtedly a groundbreaking project for the Israeli film industry both in genre and in the scale of the animation and VFX work. Jonathan was the driving force behind this undertaking: working as writer, director and creating some of the VFX shots himself.

Director, Afterthought

Director and writer, born in Haifa. Keidan studied cinema at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School and at Tel Aviv University. In 2008, he wrote and directed the short Himnon (Anthem), which won First Prize at the Cannes Cinefondation. His feature debut, Hayored Lema’ala (Afterthought) premiered at this year’s Official Selection at Cannes.


Actress, Encirclements

Levi attended and graduated the Yoram Levinstein School of Acting in southern Tel Aviv.

Levi’s early appearances include films such as HaShiva (1995), Kesher Ir (Urban Feel; 1998) andHaBoleshet Hokeret (The Investigation Must Go On; 2000), alongside Moshe Ivgy. For the latter two she received an Israeli Film Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has also appeared in several television shows, including Cafe Paris and HaBurganim.

In 2004, she played the leading role in Raphael Nadjari’s film Avanim, which was presented in the Berlin Film Festival as a Panorama: Special Presentation, and also won several awards across Europe, including Best Film at the Cinema Tout Ecran in Geneva.

Her best-known appearance was in Aviva Ahuvati (Aviva, My Love), a 2006 film by Shemi Zarhin, in which she played the leading role. The film became popular in Israel and earned Levi significantly wider recognition, as well as her third Israeli Film Academy Award, this time for Best Actress.


Creator, The Accursed

Born in Israel in 1963, Levi created and directed the highly acclaimed Israeli TV series Be’Tipul (2005-2008), later adapted to the HBO series In Treatment (2007-2010), which won several Emmy and Golden Globe awards; Levi was also an executive producer of In Treatment and directed several episodes. In 2014, he co-created and co-produced the television series The Affair. In 2013, Levi created and directed a 5-hour mini-series, The Accursed, for HOT. Levi wrote, directed and co-produced the feature film August Snow (1993). He created and co-produced the anthology drama series Short Stories about Love (1997), which twice won the Israeli Academy Awards for best drama); he directed and co-created the medical drama series 101 (2000), co-created and executive produced the daily drama Love Around the Corner (2002), and directed and co-wrote the TV drama Premiere (2002), among others. Levi also produced several documentaries, among them It Kinda Scares Me (2001), which won awards at the Melbourne, Turin, and Haifa International film festivals, and served as a story/script editor for many dramatic series in Israel. Levi was a film critic for 10 years, as well as a lecturer in Israel’s leading film schools, and he led the drama department for Israel’s leading television channel.

Distributor, United King Films

For the last 15 years, Ofer Naim has been involved in film production, camerawork, editing, and directing in the feature and documentary film industry in Israel. In 2005 he directed and edited the documentary “Secrets,” the story of the life and death of the renowned singer Ofra Haza. This film created such a stir that it was the reason for reopening the trial surrounding her last will and testament. This was the film that was aired on YES DOCU to commemorate the first year passing on the day of her death, and it aired afterwards on a number of other channels. In 2007, he created the television series “Hollywood Dreams” about famous and successful Israelis that emigrated to Film City, L.A. to try to make it to the top of the film industry. The series was broadcast on HOT CABLE TV during the summer of 2007 and is still on access on their V.O.D. list.

Press Contact: John Murphy, jmurphy@murphypr.com212-414-0408
Russ Posternak, rposternak@murphypr.com212-414-0408
Samantha Kessler, samkessler@jccmanhattan.org646-505-4493

About JCC Manhattan

Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. The cornerstone of progressive programming in Manhattan, the JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants’ minds, bodies, and spirits. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs and services that reach beyond neighborhood boundaries. Programs at the JCC reach people at all stages of their lives, and serve the entire family and community.


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