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Natalie Portman, Sharon Stone, Jay Sanderson To Be Honored At Israel Film Festival In Los Angeles

Natalie Portman

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2016 – 7:17 PM

Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman will be honored with the 2016 Israel Film Festival Achievement in Film Award, Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actress Sharon Stone will receive the 2016 Israel Film Festival Career Achievement Award and Jay Sanderson will accept the 2016 Israel Film Festival Community Leadership Award on behalf of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, at the 30th Anniversary of the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles gala dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The 30th edition of the festival runs Nov. 9-23 with screenings at the Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts (Beverly Hills) and the Laemmle Town Center 5 (Encino). The Opening Night film, on Thursday, Nov. 10th, is Emil Ben-Shimon’s The Women’s Balcony, a U.S. premiere, to be held at the Steve Tisch Cinema Center in the Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills.

“Celebrating three remarkable decades as the undisputed leader in enriching U.S audiences with the award winning and critically praised productions of Israel’s thriving film and television industries, I am absolutely thrilled that the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles continues to highlight the incredible forces behind Israel’s internationally recognized creative community,” said Meir Fenigstein, festival founder/executive director.

Arnon Milchan, owner of New Regency Productions is serving as honorary chairman.

“In addition, the magnificent body of work of this year’s honorees Natalie Portman and Sharon Stone as well as The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles contributions to helping bridge Hollywood to Israel, continually emboldens and inspires audiences worldwide to the best that Israel has to offer,” Fenigstein added.

Among this year’s highlights are the narrative feature films Beyond the Mountains and Hills, The Last Band in Lebanon, One Week and a Day, Our Father, Sand Storm, Wounded Land and Amor. The documentaries include On the Map, the festival’s centerpiece event, Forever Pure, Presenting Princess Shaw, The Settlers and Who’s Gonna Love Me Now.

Filmmakers from Israel who will attend this year’s event, accompanying their films and participating in Q&A sessions, include: Elite Zexer, director of Sand Storm ;Asaph Polonsly, director of One Week and a Day; Meni Yaesh, director of Our Father; Maya Zinshtein, director of Forever Pure; Dani Menkin, director and Nancy Spielberg, executive producer of On the Map; Itizk Krichli, director and producer and Elad Gavish, producer of The Last Band in Lebanon ; Raphael Rebibo, director of Amor, and  Estee Mecklberg, producer of Sand Storm and AKA Nadia.

Feature films:

The Women’s Balcony – Opening Night Film- Dir: Emil Ben-Shimon- U.S. premiere—When the women’s balcony of the synagogue collapsed in the middle of a bar mitzvah, nobody assumed that the cause was anything more than bad architecture—that is, until Rabbi David announced that it was actually a message from God. The charismatic young rabbi warns that the men of the community haven’t done enough to ensure the modesty of their women… creating a rift between the community’s men and women that puts faith, friendships, and traditions to the test.  2016, 96 min. TIFF—Official Selection.

One Week And A Day — Dir: Asaph Polonsky— It is one day after the end of shiva, when an Israeli couple’s ritual mourning for their son must end, when the routine of daily life must resume… but not just yet. Desperate for answers, a grieving father steals his late son’s medical marijuana and hangs out with his estranged neighbor’s son while his wife struggles to return to her daily routine—fighting off school teachers, stray kittens, and dental clinic workers. It all takes place in the span of a single, life-changing day.  2016, 98 min. 2016 Cannes—Official Selection. 2016 Ophir Awards Nominee—Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenwriter.

Our Father —Dir: Meni Yaish —U.S. premiere — Each night, Ovadia Rachmim dispenses a kind of justice. As the powerful, violent doorman of a Tel Aviv night club, he doesn’t like to start fights, but he knows how to finish them. He’s also trying to become a father: and this is what finally becomes Ovadia’s undoing. Desperate to save his marriage and build a family, this scarred, but fundamentally decent man, allows himself to be drawn into a life of crime, putting his life and conscience in jeopardy. Real-life husband and wife acting duo, Moris Cohen and Rotem Zisman Cohen, star in the tale of underworld brutality and conflicting loyalties.  2016, 105 min. 2016 Ophir Awards Winner- Best Actor & Nominee—Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenwriter.

Sand Storm— Dir: Elite Zexer — In a remote Bedouin village in southern Israel, a wedding is taking place. It ought to be an occasion to celebrate… but for a Bedouin woman named Jalila, it’s anything but. The groom is her husband—and the marriage is to a second, much younger wife. As she endures this indignity, Jalila must also contend with a free-spirited daughter who’s determined to pursue a forbidden love. Female empowerment clashes with traditional male dominance in the tale of love and betrayal. 2016, 87 min. 2016 Festival del film Locarno—Official Selection. 2016 Ophir Awards Winner—Best Picture, Israel entry to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Beyond The Mountains & Hills —Dir: Eran Kolirin —U.S. premiere —What does it mean to “come home” when the home you knew no longer exists? Discharged from the army after a lifetime of military service, a veteran named David struggles to adapt to the “new Israel” of material success. When a friend suggests working for a company making dietary supplements, David sees it as a chance to rebuild his life. But this decision only gets him further entangled in a dark web of forces that are all too present in modern Israel. Writer-director Eran Kolirin (The Band’s Visit, The Exchange) weaves this intricate tale of a country in transition.  2016 Cannes – Official Selection, Un Certain Regard — 2016 Ophir Awards Nominee—Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenwriter.

Everything Is Broken Up And Dances —Dir: Kony Geffen — U.S. Premiere— Shy young Nony grew up hearing about his namesake Uncle Amnon, a brilliant musician who never quite broke into stardom. Now a grown man, Nony has been called to the reserves to fight—and, after his frontline experiences in the Third Lebanon War leave him badly traumatized, he returns home shattered and shell-shocked. Then Nony has an astonishing revelation—he is, in fact, his Uncle Amnon, returned to fulfill his musical destiny. Urged by his psychiatrist, his friends and relatives have no choice but to play along.  2016, 85 min.

Abulele —Dir: Jonathan Geva —U.S. premiere —Monsters aren’t always to be feared: that’s what 10-year-old Adam discovers when an ancient creature known as Abulele finds him. Ever since losing his brother in a car crash, the boy has been plagued with guilt, struggling with bullies at school and grief-distracted parents at home. Then he meets the Abulele—an ancient creature who turns out to be far gentler than his bear-sized bulk might suggest. The two outcasts soon become fast friends. Abulele helps Adam deal with his tormentors, and Adam puts himself at risk to protect his new friend from Special Forces in pursuit. 2015, 96 min.

Wounded Land —Dir: Erez Tadmor —L.A. premiere — How well do you really know the partner who’s watching your back? Officer Kobi Amar and his Region Commander Yehuda Neumann, longtime partners in the Haifa police force, think they know each other inside out. Then a brutal terror attack forces one of them to take sides against the other—pitting professional duty against personal loyalties in a tautly paced thriller with surprise twists at every turn. 2015, 80 min. 2015 Ophir Awards – Winner, Best Actor, Best Director and Nominee—Best Picture.

Amor —Dir: Rafael Rebibo —U.S. premiere— After years of wandering, Daniel returns to his childhood home in Israel… only to find that the love of his life, a former ballet teacher, lies bedridden and without hope of recovery. Daniel’s love for her faces its ultimate test: can he do the unimaginable and give her the release she cannot bring to herself… and what price will he pay for his decision? 2016, 82 min.

Four by Four— Dir: Shay Kanot —U.S. premiere —A reckless boast leads to catastrophe in this wild tale of an off-road vehicle that goes way off the map. Hoping to win a promotion from his thrill-seeking boss, a high-tech employee named Motti spins tales of a fantastic beach resort—then has to spin a series of increasingly unwieldy lies to keep his boss from finding out that the fabled resort doesn’t exist. Lost in the perilous Sinai Peninsula, Motti and his co-workers wind up on the run from hostile Bedouin and aided by a sheikh’s gun-toting daughter. But who gets the promotion?  2016, 93 min.

Mr. Predictable — Dir: Roee Florentin —U.S. premiere — When Adi was 5, his father made him swear to be a good boy and always be responsible. Then his father died in the war in Lebanon, leaving Adi no choice but to keep his promise for life. Years later, a computer error causes Adi to believe that he’s got cancer—and suddenly all those years of being “predictable” seem like a tragic waste of time. Fortunately Adi meets sweet, free-spirited Natalia, who seems to have no fear of life… and has to choose between a steady, predictable existence and a chance at genuine happiness.  2016, 103 min.

The Last Band in Lebanon— Dirs: Ben Bachar and Itzik Kricheli — U.S. premiere — Set against the May, 2000 Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, this upbeat, offbeat comedy follows three reserve soldiers, members of a military rock band, who wake up one morning to discover they’ve been left behind. Caught between Hezbollah fighters and disgruntled Lebanese military, the three use the only tools at their disposal—their musical instruments—to chart their way through hostile territory and find a way home. 2016, 98 min.

The festival will also include TV series, documentaries, short films and short documentaries.

For 30 years, the Festival has presented more than 900 feature films, documentaries, television dramas and short films to close to million filmgoers and brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the U.S. to share their art. The Israel Film Festival is produced by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit created in 1982.

To attend the gala dinner or purchase tickets, contact IsraFest Foundation: Office: 310-247-1800; email: or visit

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