Israeli Film Festival to screen eye-opening films

Evan Krupp, Contributing Reporter

Starting Sunday, the Tulane Jewish Studies Department, with Duke University’s Shai Ginsburg, will be hosting the two-day Israeli Film Festival featuring documentaries covering a wide array of topics concerning Israeli history and contemporary Israeli life. The four films slated for presentation have been released in recent years to widespread critical and popular acclaim, and offer vital insight into what has become a highly complex international situation.

Opening the festivities at 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Lavin-Bernick Center’s Stibbs Room is Tamar Tal’s 2012 Ophir-award winning “Life in Stills.” In this work, Tal relays the fascinating story of Miriam Weissenstein, an Israeli woman who, at the age of 96, answers the call to action to save her late husband Rudi’s life work—his photo shop holding nearly one million negatives documenting Israel’s defining moments. “The Photo House,” scheduled for demolition, was ultimately saved thanks to heroic work of Miriam and her grandson Ben.

Following “Life in Stills” at 7 p.m. in Stibbs, Netalie Braun’s “The Hangman” documents the life of Shalom Nagar, a Sephardic prison warden tasked with overseeing, and ultimately executing, prisoner Nazi major official Adolf Eichmann. Nagar’s own voice pervades the narrative, offering a unique perspective on the tumultuous years following World War II, and the multitude of ethical and moral conflicts they brought.

Day Two, hosted in the Jewish Studies Conference Room, promises to tantalize as well, with a noon showing of “The Garden of Eden” and a 2 p.m. showing of “Life Sentences.” The former uses the famous Sakhne National Park as a platform for capturing the beauty of the land of Israel and offering brief insight into the lives of its attendees.

“Life Sentences,” perhaps the most enticing film of the event, tracks the story of a marriage between a Jewish woman and an Arab man, who is discovered to be the perpetrator of many terrorist attacks on Israel during the 1960s and imprisoned.

The four films promise to provide an informative and intriguing cross-section of Israeli life, from its 1948 birth through the maelstrom that has followed and to the present day.