Ana Arabia, La Dune also honoured in Haifa.

Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem, fresh from its international tour through Venice, Telluride and Toronto, landed back home for a triumphal opening reception at the Haifa Film Festival, grabbing both the Best Israeli Film Award and a Best Actor award for Tsahi Halevy, who plays an Israeli security officer at odds with his bosses and in trouble with the young Palestinian he is trying to turn into his own agent. The film is also now confirmed as the Israeli submission for the Oscar race for best foreign-language film.

Amos Gitai’s one-shot feature, Ana Arabia, predictably collected a Best Cinematography award for Giora Bejach and Nir Bar’s 82-minute tour-de-force. A second prize went to the film’s script authored by Gitai with his regular partner, Marie-Josee Sanselme. Hila Vidor, who plays a sexually repressed, inhibited young married wife in Funeral at Noon by Adam Sanderson, was selected Best Actress.

La Dune, an Israeli feature shot mostly in France with a predominantly French cast, got its director, Yossi Aviram, the Best Debut prize, while Yael Reuveni’s Farewell Herr Schwartz took the Documentary Award. The jury for the Israeli films included the country’s best known cinema actress, Gila Almagor, the director of the Istanbul Festival, Azize Tan, producer Hami Mekleberg, experimental filmmaker Vivian Ostrovsky and director/cinematographer Jorge Gurevich.

Haifa’s second competition, dedicated to Mediterranean movies, picked Roberto Ando’s political satire Viva la Liberta for its Golden Anchor Award.