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Israeli films in the Berlinale

The Berlinale filmfest is set to be rocked by aftershocks of the #MeToo movement
Britta Pedersen (dpa/AFP)
Just a few weeks prior to its release, Israeli film "The Disappeared" was censured and shelved

The German capital is preparing for its celebration of film, culture and diversity, with Israel also set to take center stage.

Every year a handful of Israeli filmmakers are featured in the program of Berlin’s International Film Festival, trying to shed light on different, less familiar aspects of life in Israel.

This year, two Israeli films by young filmmakers will premiere at the Berlinale: "Para Aduma" ("Red Cow", in Hebrew) and "The Disappeared".

Para Aduma touches upon the topics of religion, authority and young love, as it tells the story of 17-year-old Benny, growing up in a settlement in East Jerusalem. The teen, whose mother died giving birth to her, finds herself drifting away from her father, a religious extremist and local leader.

When a red calf is born on the family property, the father interprets it as a sign to start building the Third Jewish Temple. His redheaded daughter, on the other hand, sympathizes with the trapped animal and at the same time struggles with her sexuality as she develops feelings for 19-year-old Yael.

This coming-of-age story is the debut feature film of Tsivia Barkai Yacov, who already took part in the Berlinale in 2006 with a short film. It will be screened as part of the "Generation" category for teen films.

Laila Films, Boaz Yehonatan Yacov

The other Israeli film featured this year, The Disappeared, is an experimental documentary film that deals with one of the most taboo subjects of the Israeli Army -- the rising number of soldier suicides. The documentary follows the production of an action feature film by the Israeli Army in 2000.

The film enjoyed a big budget, allowing for a cast of top Israeli actors and hundreds of soldier extras. Filming locations included a top-secret missile base, and the props, an entire armed brigade along with military helicopters.

But just a few weeks before its release -- as preparations were underway for its commercial, nationwide distribution -- The Disappeared was censured and shelved.

The 46-minute experimental film by filmmakers Adam Kaplan and Gilad Baram reveals the story of that mysterious production, based on recollections of those who took part in its creation.

Israeli security forces are also the focus of another Berlinale premiere: the Hollywood depiction of Operation Entebbe, the daring Israeli raid to rescue the passengers of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris, hijacked on June 27, 1976. Over a hundred hostages, mostly Israeli, were held captive for over a week in the airport of Entebbe, Uganda, by German and Palestinian hijackers, who demanded the release of forty imprisoned Palestinian combatants.

Liam Daniel

The film "7 Days in Entebbe" by Brazilian director José Padilha, depicts minute-by-minute detail of the legendary rescue mission of the Israeli Special Forces, and claims to offer its own version of the hijacking, based on new research. Stars Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike were cast as the German hijackers, and Israeli actors Lior Ashkenazi and Angel Bonanni play, respectively, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yoni Netanyahu, the commander of the elite commando unit and younger brother of Israel's current premiere, who was killed in action.

The Berlinale opens Thursday and will run until February 25, 2018.

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