New Israeli Cinema began unofficially six years ago, when Mizel Museum curator Georgina Kolber began showing Israeli films on the lawn of the museum on summer nights. But inclement weather and a slim selection of library titles didn't fulfill the curator's desires, so she approached the Denver Film Society about co-curating a festival devoted to Israeli and Jewish films from around the world.
The official series was born in 2011, a co-curation of great contemporary Israeli films by Kolber and Sie FilmCenter Artistic Director Brit Withey. New Israeli Cinema opens its third year this Tuesday, July 2 at the Sie FilmCenter with a 7 p.m. screening of Epilogue.
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With movie every Tuesday and Sunday through July, this year's series includes films tackling Israel's place in the world today -- as well as dramatic moments of the past. "We look for films that serve up contemporary Israeli flavor -- we look for variety in subject matter across the series, so that each film touches on a unique theme," says Kolber.
Along with series opener Epilogue, the story of an elderly couple struggling with their own revolutionary thoughts on Israel's social climate, Rock the Casbah is a highly anticipated film set in 1989 in the Gaza Strip, telling a soldier's personal experience within the Israel/Palestine conflict.
By Summer's End and Ballad of the Weeping Spring are the last two films in the series -- one dealing with family grief and triumph, the other with the power of music as conduit for a lasting human connection.
Films are culled from other major film festivals across the globe, giving viewers in Denver a first look at some of the newer, award-winning films made within the last few years. Post-film discussions will be held after each screening, which Kolber hopes will create a conversation around Israel's history and current issues.
"All of our programming employs the arts to inspire expanded perspectives about the present and future," says Kolber. "I think film in particular is an art form that opens eyes and minds in profound ways.
"I think I'm most interested in people's responses to the films," Kolber continues. "Rock the Casbah has attracted a lot of international attention because it's the first time Israel's film industry has dared to touch on the intifada and the experiences of Israeli soldiers in the territories."
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The New Israeli Cinema series starts Tuesday, July 2 at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter; screenings will run each Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. throughout the month of July. For more information on the series, visit the Mizel Museum's website; to purchase tickets, visit the Sie FilmCenter's website.