First Place Prize for Israeli Feature Film Competition

haifa film frstival



"Personal Affairs"
Director: Maha Haj, producer: Baher Agbaryia, co-producers: Ehab Assal, Munther Haj

Jurors: Tawfiq Abu Wael (Israel - director & screenwriter), Ara Lapid (Israel - editor, cinema teacher, a juror at international festivals and director), Martha Fiennes (United Kingdom – director, writer, and artist, laureate of the British Film Critics Award), Tom Shoval (Israel - screenwriter and director, and professor of cinema), Orna Lin (Israel - lawyer since 35 years, Deputy President of the Press Council. A member of the Steering Committee of Haifa Film Festival for many years).

ענינים אישיים

Jury Wrote: A work that is all about the love of man, fluent and funny, engaging and caring. A contemporary human mosaic that is both local and universal.

An elderly couple living in Nazareth, weary of everyday routine. On the other side of the border, in Ramallah, their son Tareq seeks to remain unmarried, their daughter is about to have a baby, while her husband receives an offer to act in a film and the grandmother loses her mind. Between checkpoints and dreams, debauchery and politics, some want to leave, some to stay, but all have personal issues to resolve.





Director: Elad keidan. Producers: Eitan Mansuri, Elie Meirovitz, Jonathan Doweck, Danny Goldberg.

Jurors: President – Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Iran - director, writer, human rights activist), Carl Och (Czech Republic - artistic director, Karlovy Vary Film Festival), Yvonne Miklosh (Israel – cinematographer and director), Lawrence Cardish (USA - former curator of the film department at MoMA) July Shlez (Israel - director and producer).

Jury Wrote: The prize goes to a movie that shows life and its absurdity in an original and coherent way.

An existential comedy, taking place in Haifa. A young man walks down the Carmel on foot to get on a ship and escape all that he likes and loathes. Meanwhile, a hardworking man from downtown sets out on a Sisyphean journey up the mountain, in search of an earring that his wife lost. One goes up, the other goes down, and although they may collide, there's always the possibility they will pass through each other.




"Next to Her"

Director: Asaf Korman. Script: Liron Ben-Shlush. Producers: Haim Mecklberg, Estee Yaakov-Mecklberg. Co-producers: Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, Ygal Mograbi.


Jury Wrote: Szabolcs Hajdu (writer and director-Hungary), Albert Wiederspiel (Director of the Hamburg Film Festival, Germany), Eilon Ratzkovsky (producer, Israel), Prof. Avner Faingulernt (director and filmmaker, chair of the School of Audio & Visual Arts, Sapir Academic College), Dr. Yael Munk (lecturer, Open University, Israel).

Cheli, 27, is raising her mentally challenged 24 years old sister, Gaby, alone. When the social worker finds out that Cheli leaves Gaby alone in the house while at work, Cheli is compelled to place Gaby in a day program. For the first time in her life, Cheli shares Gaby's care with someone else; her daily routine collapses and the huge void left by Gaby's absence makes room for a man in Cheli's life, Zohar, who inadvertently creates a chink in the sisters' symbiotic relationship. While Cheli hangs on to Zohar's love for all she's worth, her inability to have a normal, intimate, and emotional relationship with anyone but her sister forces them into a twisted threesome, where boundaries between love, sacrifice, nurturing, and torturing are crossed. 

Director: Yuval Adler. Production: Talia kleinhendler, Osnat Handelsman-Keren, Diana Elbaum, Sébastien Delloye, Steve Hudson.

Jurors: Gila Almagor (Israel, President, actress), Vivian Ostrovsky (artist and experimental filmmaker), Jorge Gurvitch (Israel, director, producer, cameraman and film teacher), Haim Meckleberg (Israel, movie producer), Aziza Tan (Turkey, Director of the Istanbul Film Festival).

Jury Wrote: The film gripped us from the first scene without letting go, even after its end. The movie is brave, jarring, exciting and powerful; it faces the viewer with dilemmas of divided loyalties. Although this is a debut film, the director demonstrates complete control of the cinematic medium and creates a sweeping and engaging film. It is important to note that, beyond being a great film, it is also particularly relevant to us here in this place.

The film provides a glimpse into the dark, tense and fascinating world of human intelligence, where the best way to operate a source is to be the closest person to them. In the center of the film is the complex, long and crooked relationship between Razi (Tsahi Halevi), the Bethlehem district Coordinator of the Israeli Secret Service, and Sanfur (Shadi Mar'i), the younger brother of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' commander in the city. When the ISS discover the extent of Sanfur's involvement in his brother's activities, Razi and Sanfur find themselves in an impossible situation.



This year, two films shared the prize:

"Out in the Dark"

Director: Michael Mayer. Producers: Lihu Rotter and Michael Mayer.


Jury Wrote: Brave and relevant drama committed to human rights, values, freedom and sexual choice in Palestinian and Israeli society.

The film tells the story of Nimer, a young Palestinian, a devoted son and outstanding student, who dreams of studying abroad, and of a better life. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli advocate, and the two fall in love. As their relationship tightens, Nimer must confront the reality of Palestinian society that condemns him for his sexual identity on the one hand, and Israeli society that does not accept him because of his Palestinian identity on the other.

"Fill the Void"

Director: Rama Burshtein. Producer: Asaf Amir


Jury Wrote: A magical and poetic tale of life, death, marriage and renewal within the Haredi community. A moving directorial debut.

The story of an ultra-orthodox Jewish family living in Tel Aviv. 18-year-old Shira is the young daughter of the Mendelmans'. After the death of her older sister Esther, during the birth of her first son, Mordecai, Shira is forced to choose between her heart's wishes and her duty to her family, and discovers that the choice area is narrowed down to her heart alone.

Jurors: July Shlez (Israel, Director and producer), Isaac Zepel Yeshurun (Israel, director, producer and screenwriter), Amnon Zlayet (Israel, photographer of feature films, documentaries, TV series and music videos), Ehud Bleiberg (USA, movie producer), Gerald Perry (USA, Professor of film).



Director: Michal Aviad. Production: Plan B Production Ltd., Tel Aviv

Jurors: Garth Unwin (United Kingdom, President, film producer), Yael Vogel (France, movie producer), Gideon Bachmann (Germany, Director of the European Film Institute), Guy Nattiv (Israel, director and screenwriter), Yoav Kosh (Israel, photographer, filmmaker and lecturer).

Jury Wrote: In granting the prize this year we examined not only the quality of the film, the script and production, but felt an obligation to choose a movie that deals with a story that is important to local and international audiences alike. This is a personal story as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

The film depicts a chance encounter between two women haunted by the same nightmare. One fleeting moment unites them, and now they must block out the pain again, or confront the cracks in their lives.


"The Flood"

Director: Guy Nattiv. Producers: Chilik Michaeli, Ina Fichman, Avraham Pirchi, Tami Leon, Moshe & Leon Edery, David Silber.

Jurors: Avi Nesher (Israel, President, director, screenwriter and producer), Sharon Harel (United Kingdom/Israel, producer), Thomas Schuli (Germany, producer) Salva Nekara (Israel, actress), Alyssa Simon (USA, journalist, film critic of Variety and film curator).

Jury Wrote: Guy Nattiv's control of the cinematic language is adept and confident. His actors embody complex characters who hide more than they reveal. Yoav Rotman emerges as a prodigy, and Ronit Elkabetz, Tzahi Grad and Michael Moshonov are fabulous as always.

This is an exciting movie that avoids sentimentality, a metaphoric film that despite using biblical symbolism succeeds in creating sadness and anxiety, anger and joy, that cross the border of metaphor and create a moving reality. The jury's selection of Nattiv's film indicates our decisive vote of confidence in the director's skill future.

Yoni's Bar Mitzvah approaches but his family continues to disintegrate as his parents prepare to separate. Things take a turn when Yoni's autistic older brother returns to the family home and challenges the family to reconcile and put an end to their dysfunctional ways in time for Yoni's Bar Mitzvah celebration


"Five hours from Paris"
Director: Leonid Prudovsky
Producer: Haim Meckelberg, Estee Yaakov-Meckelberg, Moshe Edery, Leon Edery.

"Seven Minutes in Heaven"
Director: Omri Givon. Producer: Marek Rozenbaum, Itai Tamir, Elie Meirovitz, Michael Rozenbaum.

"Julia Miya"

Director: Yuval granot. Production: Yuval Granot, Udi Efrat.

"Foul Gesture"
Director: Tzahi Grad. Production: Ijo Shani, David Cohen, Gal Zaid, Tzahi Grad