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An inspiring cinematic tour of Israel


The Israeli Film Festival 2003, running from May 13 to 23, will excite film buffs with some of the latest award-winning Israeli feature films and documentaries.

Jointly presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Consulate General of Israel, the festival will showcase eight recent Israeli productions.

The films will be screened at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre and the Hong Kong Space Museum Lecture Hall.

Israeli cinema traces its roots to the 1940s, to the time of the foundation of the State of Israel. Its early output consisted mainly of documentaries for the information of the public and dramas that portrayed the political and ideological upheavals of that era in a heroic light. In the 1960s, though, comedies and melodramas began to deal with a broader spectrum of social issues as young filmmakers came under the influence of France's New Wave.

In 1979, the government set up a fund to encourage and promote artistic filmmaking. Since then, Israeli directors have produced many quality films that have won accolades on the international film festival circuit.

The festival opens on May 13 with the award-winning Desperado Square (2000), which shows that love and cinema have no boundaries. An actual Indian film, Raj Kapoor's Sangam, is used to echo Desperado Square's plot. The film won honours for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Music, Best Art Direction and Best Costume at the Israeli Academy Awards in 2000, and the Bronze Tree and Best Script awards at the Valencia Film Festival in 2002.

The action comedy Clean Sweep (2000) was nominated for numerous film awards and carried off Best Supporting Actress honours at the Israeli Academy Awards 2000. It's the story of a lady police officer who's out to punish her treacherous boss, who's also her lover.

Yellow Asphalt (2001) chronicles the clashes with modernity of the nomadic Bedouin people. Lowly in status yet obstinate, the endangered tribe is ready to defend its dignity at all costs when mistreated by modern society. The film took seven years to complete and feature many real Bedouins. The picture was named Best Film at the Haifa International Film Festival in 2001 and won the Special Jury Prize at the Mediterranean Film Festival the same year.

The name Mike Brant rings few bells for Hong Kong music lovers, but once they hear his renditions in French of Que Sera and Feelings they may find themselves wishing to have made his acquaintance earlier. Though he didn't know a word of French to begin with, Brant conquered the Parisian music scene in the 1970s with his beautiful voice and matinee-idol looks. Mike Brant - Laisse moi t'aimer (2002) recounts the life of the star, from humble beginnings in his Israeli hometown to glamorous success in the French capital.

Vulcan Junction (1999) focuses on the lives of four rock musicians and boasts a wild and stirring soundtrack by The Zombies, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and King Crimson.

Giraffes (2001) is a tale of the intertwined fates of three women, filled with surprises and twists. It's been compared to a David Lynch film transplanted to Israel.

Being shown together are My Four Children (2002) and Three Hundredth of a Second (2002). The first tells of a mother who overcomes her own tragic loss by taking care of other people's children suffering from Down's Syndrome. The second film, which revolves around Israel's paralympic swimming team, is a cinematic essay on women, the handicapped and artistic creation.

All films have English subtitles. Desperado Square, Yellow Asphalt and Mike Brant - Laisse moi t'aimer also carry Chinese subtitles.

Tickets priced at $40 per showing are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. A 10% discount will be offered for each purchase of six to 10 tickets and 20% discount for 11 tickets or more.

For information call 2734 2900 or visit or http// Reservations can be made by phone at 2734 9009 or on the internet at

End/Friday, May 2, 2003

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