In focus: Israel brings cinema bursting with black humor

PÖFF puts Israeli cinematography under the microscope with screenings of 16 significant films showcasing unpredictably sharp emotions, expanding worldviews and making people laugh with unexpectedly black humor.

The In Focus: Israel program selections range from the latest masterpieces to restored film classics. There is one recurring theme throughout the program—there are no taboo topics. The good and the bad of the present, as well as historical times, are represented with the same cutting sharpness. It's a crazy journey that shows life through the eyes of a bourgeois husband, a cultured lover, a drug-addicted snowflake, one of the world's most brutal dictators and a basement-dwelling Abulele.



A brilliant comedy about a married couple, Meir and Tova, who live a middle-class life and are weighed down by a strong regret—they cannot fulfill their dreams. When Itzik, a talent agent, moves into their house, their zest for life seems to return. A playful debut film filled with excellent acting, music and dramaturgy polished to the last detail.

The Other Widow
Ella is a costume designer on a long-term secret relationship with Assaf, a respected but married playwright. When Assaf dies suddenly, Ella is the last to hear about it. During the traditional mourning period, Ella starts visiting the man's home every day. She develops a friendship with Assaf's widow Natasha and an intimate relationship with Assaf's brother Dan. However, everything takes a sudden turn when it is revealed who Ella really is.

The Good Person
The film's main character, Sharon, is an ambitious art-house film producer who suddenly finds herself on the brink of bankruptcy. In order to save her finances, she makes a deal with a former grandmaster of cinema. From this deal begins an extraordinary original comedy, which not only covers the crazy film industry, but also eloquently reflects upon the cultural industry.

DUCKS. An Urban Legend
This black comedy, set to the tune of jazz,, portrays a side of Tel Aviv that the audience does not know. All the five main characters of the film‒Yossi, Chris, Asaf, Anna and Elias‒are ordinary people experiencing the challenges of love. For some it may be the road to perdition, for others it may be redemption.



In bed
Guy and his best friend Joy are enjoying a gay parade when their bliss is suddenly interrupted by gunfire. Loosely based on a real-life hate crime that shocked an entire community, the film takes viewers on a hallucinatory journey full of striking ups and downs, plenty of ecstasy and paranoia.

Valeria Is Getting Married
Christina has lived in Israel for many years. Her arranged marriage to Michael seems to be going well and they want to find a husband for Christina’s sister. This provocative drama, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for nine Israeli Film Academy awards, reflects on the nuances and dynamics of power relations in couple relationships.

A young, deeply Orthodox couple have been trying for a child for a long time. When the man travels abroad, a rabbi comes to the house claiming he can heal people just by blowing a musical horn. One night, during the "ritual", the young married woman is raped. When her husband returns from the trip, painful questions arise.

The Taste of Apples is Red
Sheikh Kamel has spent his entire life in a village located in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Suddenly his brother Mustafa, who disappeared beyond the border nearly 50 years ago during the Arab-Israeli war, appears at his door. Kamel is forced to choose between betraying his brother or trying to save him, putting him at odds with his community.

Summer nights
6-year-old Alva talks to his father. During the long summer nights, when sleep does not want to come, their conversations cover all aspects about life, death and God. This tender and poetic documentary dives into the fears and longings of a child, capturing the wonderful moment when questions with no easy answers are first asked.



June 0
An outstanding film about the execution of Adolf Eichmann, one of the Holocaust architects, in Israel. The film, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary festival, is based on the personal stories of three men closely associated with Eichmann. Director Jake Paltrow focuses not on Eichmann's crimes, but on their impact on ordinary Jewish people through merciless satire.

My neighbor Adolf
A politically incorrect, tautly bittersweet comedy about an impossible friendship between a Holocaust survivor and his neighbor Adolf Hitler. The film plays with the concept of truth and explores a historical “what-if”: what if Adolf Hitler didn't shoot himself and fled to South America with other Nazi criminals?

Avanti popolo
The Sinai Peninsula at the end of the Six Day War in 1976. A black comedy about the absurdity of war, which tells the story of two Egyptian soldiers on their way home. While on the road, they encounter Israeli patrols and a dead UN peacekeeper with a significant amount of whiskey. Turns out it doesn't take long for enemies to become comrades, if you what what we mean.



A family of five lives in the middle of nowhere. When the father decides to supply water to the family by illegally diverting water to their land, the fresh flood awakens an instinctive desire for freedom. The film won the FIPRESCI Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Its new digital copy was made in cooperation with the director and cinematographer.

Big Eyes
The restored version of "Big Eyes" will be presented at the festival. Benny, a basketball coach that has everything, feels dissatisfied and finds himself in difficult situations with his wife, another important woman in his life, and his best friend. Director Uri Zohar was known for films that made fun of almost everything in Israel.



Abulele is a giant, terrifying and monstrous creature. After the death of his brother, 10-year-old Adam has found a best friend in Abulele. When their secret friendship is threatened by a special forces unit that has come to look for Abulele, Adam realizes that sometimes the real monsters aren't hiding in closets, but in our midst.

What does virginity and its loss mean? With an abusive family and a troubled background, a teenage boy is constantly told he is not good enough. With enchanting and bold visual language, the boy begins to discover his path towards manhood in a painfully honest story.