Monthly Screenings
2018 Jerusalem Film Festival Awards Announced

2018 Jerusalem Film Festival Announces Awards for 35th Edition

Prizes Totalling 700,000 Israeli Shekels ($190,000 USD) Awarded Across JFF Competitions

The Robert Nissim Haggiag Award for best Israeli Feature Film (50,000 ILS, approx. $ 27,000 USD) was shared by two films:

THE DIVE by Yona Rozenkier and RED COW by Tsivia Barkai-Yacov


The Van Leer award for Best Israeli Documentary Film (50,000 ILS, approx.

$ 13,500 USD) was presented to JONATHAN AGASSI SAVED MY LIFE by Tomer Heymann


The Gabriel Sherover Foundation Award (20,000 USD) for Best International Film was presented to DOGMAN by Matteo Garrone,

with a Special Mention presented to BORDER by Ali Abbasi



Last night Thursday August 2nd, the 35th Jerusalem Film Festival presented its awards for the festival's Israeli and International competitions. Seven feature films and eight documentary films competed in the major Israeli competitions, the large majority of which were presented as World Premieres in Jerusalem.  The festival continues with a final weekend of screenings and runs through August 5th.

The Israeli Competitions Jury was composed of Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer, Israeli director Anat Yuta Zuria, Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska, and French cinematographer Caroline Champetier.

The International Competitions Jury gathered British film critic Fionnuala Halligan, The Match Factory CEO Michael Weber, and Israeli director Elite Zexer.

Synopsis - THE DIVE by Yona Rozenkier: Before going to war, three brothers reunite for one weekend to bury their father in their native kibbutz on the border with Lebanon. As war rages all around them, the two older brothers begin the same violent ritual training that was initiated by their late father, in order to prepare the youngest for his first war. The deserted kibbutz and its surroundings becomes the brothers' surreal playground and as the end of the weekend approaches, the training becomes more and more violent until finally, after a tragic turn, it spins out of control.

Synopsis - RED COW by Tsivia Barkai-Yacov: Benny (17), an only child who lost her mother at birth, lives with her fundamentalist father in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. As her father becomes more and more obsessed with a red heifer that he believes will bring the redemption, Benny drifts further away and into the arms of Yael, a young new woman in her life. She embarks on a personal journey that will shape her religious, political and sexual consciousness.

Synopsis - JONATHAN AGASSI SAVED MY LIFE by Tomer Heymann: Jonathan Agassi is one of the world’s most successful gay porn stars. A rare and intimate look at the world of porn and escorting, as well as a unique mother and son relationship, redefining familiar family norms.


The full list of winners along with accompanying jury statements are included below:

Israeli Competitions

* The Haggiag Award for Best Feature Film and the Anat Pirchi Award for Best Debut Film were divided equally between two films: The Dive, director: Yona Rozenkier, producers: Efrat Cohen and Koby Mizrahi and Red Cow, director: Tsivia Barkai-Yacov, producer: Itai Tamir.

Jury considerations: “The prizes are awarded to both films for their profound qualities and unique cinematic modes of expression, each in its own special way.”

* Van Leer Award for Best Documentary Film: Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life. Director: Tomer Heymann, producers: Barak Heymann, Tomer Heymann.

Jury considerations: “Due to its powerful main character and narrative that reflects society’s complexity.”

* Van Leer Prize for Director of Documentary Film: Shaked Goren, for My War Hero Uncle. Producers: Ayelet Kait, Amir Harel.

Jury considerations: “For the honesty we experienced while viewing, and for the way in which the truth is revealed to us.”

* Dalia Sigan Award for Screenplay: The Oslo Diaries, directors: Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan; producers: Hilla Medalia and Ina Fichman.

Jury considerations:  “The prize was awarded for its adaptation of history into a fascinating cinematic story.”

* Haggiag Award for Best Actor: Yoel Rozenkier, Micah Rozenkier, and Yona Rozenkier for their performances in The Dive. Director: Yona Rozenkier.

Jury considerations: “For a powerful performance by an ensemble of actors who work together with remarkable chemistry.”

* Haggiag Award for Best Actress: Avigayil Koevary, for her performance in Red Cow, director: Tsivia Barkai-Yacov.

Jury considerations: “For a performance that skillfully and simultaneously combines sensuality and tenderness.”

* The Aharon Emanuel Award for Best Cinematographer: Oded Ashkenazi for The Dive. Director: Yona Rozenkier. Producers: Efrat Cohen, Kobi Mizrahi.

Jury considerations: “For the faithful reflection of the characters and plot.”

* The Yoram Golan Award for Editing: Tal Rabiner and Alex Khosid for Jonathan Agassi Saved my Life. Director: Tomer Heyman. Producers: Barak Heyman, Tomer Heyman.

Jury considerations: “For intelligent and highly balanced editing work.”

* The Van Leer Award for Music: Assaf Talmudi for his work on Redemption. Directors: Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov; producers: Marek Rozenbaum, Michael Rozenbaum, Jonathan Rozenbaum.

Jury considerations: “For a soundtrack that enriches the film as if it were another character.”

* Audience Favorite Award for Feature Film: Redemption. Directors: Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, producers: Marek Rozenbaum, Michael Rozenbaum, Jonathan Rozenbaum.

* Audience Favorite Award for Documentary Film: Wild Kids. Director: Tal Pesses. Producers: Ron Ofer, Rotem Faran.

International Competition

* Gabriel Sherover Foundation Award for Best International Feature Film was awarded to Dog-man. Director: Matteo Garrone. Italy, France 2018.

Jury considerations: “This is a film that fills its viewers with a wide range of emotions. Happiness, love, laughter, sadness, anger—there is no emotion that the audience does not experience while watching 95 minutes of filmmaking at its best.”

* Special Mention was awarded to Border. Director: Ali Abbassi. Sweden, Denmark 2018.

Jury considerations: “For its uniqueness and originality, which surprised us more than any other film in the competition.”

International Competition for Debut Films

Members of the jury: Renzo Fegatelli (Italy), Giulia Dobre (Romania), Ofer Libergall (Israel).

* International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award for Best International Debut Film was awarded to Suavage. Director: Camille Vidal-Naquet. France 2018.  

Jury considerations: “Director Camille Vidal-Naquet wonderfully presents a bold new viewpoint on invisible people, which resolutely leads us to contemplate the human experience of loneliness, longing, and hope.”

International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award for Best Israeli Debut Film was awarded to Virgins. Director: Keren Ben Rafael.

Jury considerations: “Keren Ben Rafael’s film exemplifies how man’s profound faith in his principles and love of life can manage to create a new reality.”

In the Spirit of Freedom Awards in Memory of Wim van Leer

Jury members: Edna Fainaru (Israel), Ilda Santiago (Brazil), Mateusz Kościukiewicz (Poland).

* The Cummings Award for Best Feature Film was awarded to Happy as Lazzaro. Director: Alice Rohrwacher. Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany 2018.

Jury considerations: “The prize is awarded in commendation of the courage of an independent director, for her profound thinking, and free viewpoint. The film’s hero leads us toward what our world needs most: compassion.”

* The Ostrovsky Award for Documentary Film: Infinite Football. Director: Corneliu Porumboiu. Romania 2018.

Jury considerations: “For an original cinematic vision, full of absurd and intelligent humor. A homage to the infinite liberty of human contemplation.”

Van Leer Competition for Israeli Short Films

Jury members: Javier Porta Fouz (Argentina), Assaf Polonski (Israel), Tova Asher (Israel).

* Van Leer Award for Best Short Fiction Film: Girl with a Fork in a World of Soup. Director: Yotam Knispel, Beit Berl Academic College.

Jury considerations: “In the film there is a remarkable and effective combination of styles that creates a plethora of surprises; both in cinematic terms and in terms of dramatic development. This is a bitter-sweet film, a romantic comedy that merges fantasy and reality. Colorful and exciting cinema.”

* Van Leer Award for Best Documentary Film: Shore Stories. Director: Uri Smoly, Sam Spiegel Film School.

Jury considerations: The Sea of Galilee, an epitomal symbol of Israeli national unity. In this short film, the director bases his representation of the Israeli through a series of touching and amusing characters, and reflects the Israeli melting pot.

* The Cinema and Television Initiative at the Authority for the Development of Jerusalem Best Short Animated Film Award: Calpotis. Director: Mor Israeli, Le Poudriere – Film and Animation School.

Jury considerations: “With a sure hand, the director creates a film abundant with charm, motion, and depth. The animation faithfully serves the content in a minimalistic, astonishing manner.”

Special Mentions were awarded to Shabbos Kallah, director: Aleeza Chanowitz; The Love Letter, director: Atara Frisch.

The Jewish Experience Awards – Courtesy of Michaela and Leon Constantiner

Jury members: Susan Engel (USA), Dan Michman (Israel), Amichai Greenberg (Israel).

* Leah Award for Jewish Heritage Film: Redemption. Director: Joseph Madmony, Boaz Yehonatan Yacov. Israel 2018.

Jury considerations: “The filmmakers sensitively and skillfully unfold an authentic Jewish experience of a repentant Jew who is forced to connect between the secular world he left and the religious world he chose while torn by contradictions and gaps – and all this in order to give his only daughter a life.”

* The Avner Shalev - Yad VaShem Chairman's Award for Artistic Achievement in Holocaust related film: Black Honey, The Life and Poetry of Avraham Sutskever. Director: Uri Barabash.

Jury considerations: “This film is significant for its revealing the image of Yiddish poet Avraham Sutskever to the public. Barabash outlines the character and poetry of the most prominent and world-renowned Yiddish poet of recent generations, while highlighting the centrality of the holocaust in his work and his commitment to create in Yiddish from an existential viewpoint even in the state of Israel in which he believed but from which he did not receive the recognition he deserved.”

* Special Mention: Shabbos Kallah. Director: Aleeza Chanowitz. Israel 2018

Jury considerations: “The filmmaker offers a refreshing, humorous and original perspective on a traditional occasion.”

Intersections: The Israeli Video Art and Experimental Film Competition

Jury members: Dr. Aya Lurie, Sharon, Balaban, Sergio Edelsztein

The Lia Van Leer Award, courtesy of Rivla Saker for Best Experimental Film: 7 Abdul Kharims. Artist: Elham Rokni.

Jury Considerations: “After deep consideration, the jury decided to grant first prize to Elham Rokny. Rokny’s work brings to the screen a debate on a significant and sensitive social issue by employing diverse and creative cinematic tools. These manifest as a refined, original, and human voice, filled with humor and empathy, which undermines the construction of the established Western narrative that wallows in facts and data. Rokny ascends to a world of fantasy and imagination, while the narrative of African emigration echoes our local story as a nation of immigration and refuge.”


Ostrovsky Family Fund Award: Boxes. Artist: Naama Shohet.


Jury considerations: "By constructing a macabre situation, the artist taps a difficult personal story from which broad insights concerning existential anxiety, memory, and obsessiveness are derived. The issue of loss is deconstructed through humor and pragmatic questions about life, the body, and burial. Shohat explores the great myths that are fertile terrain for questions about loss and life".


13th Jerusalem Pitch-point (Projects in Production or Work-In-Progress Stage)

Jury members: Kirsten Niehuus (Germany), Cedomir Kolar (France), Dominique Welinski (France), Tamara Tatishvili (Georgia) and Gabor Greiner (Germany).

*The Goralska Award was awarded to Lot's Wife. Director: Avishai Sivan, Producer: Ronen Tal for Plan B Productions.

* Wouter Barendrecht-Lia van Leer Award was awarded to Karaoke. Director: Moshe Rosenthal, Producer: Efrat Cohen for Gaudeamus Productions.

* The DB & OPUS Award was awarded to The Swimmer. Director: Adam Kalderon, Producer: Naama Pyritz for Ingenue Productions.

* Cinelab Award was awarded to Africa. Director: Oren Gerner, Producer: Itay Akirav for film harbour.