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Nils, Neta and Situation win Jerusalem's Pitch Point

Winning film-makers are Ram Nehari, Nir Bergman and Elad Keidan.

Ram Nehari’s [pictured] “eccentric” romantic comedy Nils, a youthful tale about a gifted, mentally ill classical musician, Nir Bergman’s drama Saving Neta and Elad Keidan’s Our Economic Situation have won the top prizes at the Jerusalem Film Festival’s Pitch Point event.

The event aimed at connecting Israeli feature projects with international producers unfolded on the fringes of the festival on Monday and Tuesday.

Nehari’s Nils clinched the €7,000 CNC Award sponsored by France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC). Produced by Yifat Prestelnik, the film revolves around romance between two young patients of a mental hospital who escape together.

Director Nehari, who has made several successful romantic comedy series for Israeli television, said the work was inspired by his work mentoring and directing short films by mentally ill people. He said the key characters would be “chemically and emotionally unbalanced.”

“They don’t undergo any epiphanies and the adventures they go on are small, and occasionally pathetic. Their dreams are bound to fail but because I do love a good rom-com they do emerge,” he said.

The seven-strong international jury, which included Ilann Girard of Paris-based Arsam, Diana Elbaum of Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup and Claudia Landsberger of the Netherlands’ film promotion body EYE International, said they admired the project for “the freshness, youth energy and the out-of-the-box nature of this gutsy love story”.

Saving Neta, the latest film from Broken Wings and In Treatment writer-director Bergman, won the €6,000 Arte International Prize. Produced by Avraham Pirchi, Tami Leon and Chilik Michaeli of Tel Aviv-based UCM, interweaves the tales of five women linked by random encounters with a man called Neta. It is based in the novel Iron by Eran Bar-Gil who is also working on the script.

“This Project allows us to discover anew the work of an established director through an innovative narrative construct that gives us a unique window on its protagonist and his journey through random interactions,” said the jury in a statement.

Elad Keidan’s Our Economic Situation was awarded the €5,000 Van Leer Foundation prize for the most promising work-in-progress. Set against the backdrop of the Northern Israeli city of Haifa, it revolves around a chance meeting between old acquaintances on the famous 1000 steps staircase running up Mount Carmel on which the city is built. It is produced by Eitan Mansuri of Spiro Films.

The jury said it deeply appreciated what the director was trying to address and “his effort to reveal different multi layers of society through the landscape of the city of Haifa”.

A special mention was also given to Joseph El-Dror’s No Blood about an introverted man forced onto a journey of self discovery when he unwittingly falls for a woman smuggling drugs across the Israeli-Lebanese border. The jury described it as “a subtle tale about hidden truths and self-discoveries”. Liran Atzmor (The Law In These Parts) is producing.

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