TAU film festival celebrates women in its 20th edition
World’s largest student film festival draws film students, veteran filmmakers and distinguished directors from Israel and around the world
The Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival — one of the largest and most influential student film festivals in the world according to CILECT, the International Association of Film and Television Schools — celebrated its 20th edition on June 10-16 at Tel Aviv’s illustrious Cinematheque and other locations in and around Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Established in 1986 by students from TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, the festival is now an annual event supported by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Israel Film Council, and Tel Aviv University. The Tisch School is the only film school in the world where student filmmakers own the rights to their student films. The School’s admission policy is equally unique. All qualified applicants — high school graduates with appropriate college entrance exam scores, etc. — are admitted to the first-year BFA program. That number hovers around 200 and 65 students are invited to continue to the second year, after faculty and lecturers have had the opportunity to gauge the quality and artistic merit of their work.
This year, Israeli actor and comedian Nelly Tagar (“Zero Motivation”) sparkled as emcee of the festival’s widely-attended opening ceremony, which was held at the Summit Gardens in Jaffa’s Old City. Throughout the evening, Tagar issued smart, hilarious pokes at herself, the festival event coordinators and the audience – students, academics and industry heavy weights and rising stars from Israel and abroad – while gracefully introducing the weeklong festival’s master classes, workshops, concerts and three major film competitions (Israeli, International and Independent Short Film), which included 150 films from Israel and abroad.
“As a soldier of Israeli film,” joked Tagar, “I vow to come back to fix anything that might go wrong tonight.”
Helping the next generation of filmmakers
In his video address to the festival, TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter recognized distinguished guests such as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Dean of the Faculty of Arts Zvika Serper, Head of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television Prof. Raz Yosef, and others.
“Tonight we are celebrating the festival’s 20th edition, in which it continues to promote young and original work,” said Prof. Klafter. “The festival each year presents the future generation of local and international cinema in its various frameworks, and preserves the spirit of innovation and creativity by integrating students from the various faculties in all the management and production aspects of the festival.”
The 2018 Student Film Festival showcased more than 100 short films from 28 countries and drew more than a hundred film students, filmmakers, and directors from around the world for special screenings, master classes and cultural pop-up events across the city. The festival’s unique Film Bus, a travelling theater that brings the short films to all parts of the country, made its seventh nationwide circuit this year.
“Through this festival, we are helping the next generation of filmmakers,” Danielle Angel, co-director of this year’s festival with Ori Aharon, said in an interview. “This is a place to advance their films after they graduate. This year, we are focused on women in film. Fourteen out of the 26 student films in the Israeli Competition, for example, were made by women. Our emcee at the opening ceremony is a woman. The opening teaser for the festival screened before each program deals with the male gaze and with being a female filmmaker today. The films screened at the opening ceremony – ‘Rachel’ by Or Sinai and ‘How to Swim’ by Noa Gusakov – are by women and are based on personal narratives about women’s experiences.”
Special guests this year included some of the world’s most distinguished filmmakers: BAFTA-winning writer and director Jacques Audiard, award-winning Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, American producer Adam Mirels, Hungarian actor and director Kornél Mundruczó, Hungarian playwright and scriptwriter Kata Weber, and Romanian film editor Dana Bunescu.
Between cinema and fashion
This year, the festival, in cooperation with Israeli fashion house Renuar, also highlighted the special connection between cinema and fashion. A variety of fashion-focused events, such as lectures by designers and stylists and screenings of fashion films, were held across the city. A masterclass on the global success of Israeli TV featuring speakers including Keshet International (“Homeland”, “In Treatment”) and Yes Studios (“On Spectrum”, “Fauda”) was widely attended.
The winners of the festival competitions were announced at the weeklong event’s closing ceremony held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Saturday, June 16th. The biggest prizes in the International Competition went to “Invisibly” by Hungarian film student Àron Szentpéteri. The Israeli Competition Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor’s Award for Best Film went to “Well Done” by Aryeh Asfari and Omer Ben Simon of TAU’s Steve Tisch School of Film & Television. Finally, the Best Film in the Independent Competition went to “Intergalactic Samurai” by filmmaker and actress Hagar Ben Asher.