aurit zamir (1)

Source: Sam Spiegel International Film Lab

Aurit Zamir

The Jerusalem Sam Spiegel International Film Lab (JSFL) has unveiled the 12 feature film projects that will participate in its 10th edition, which will run from December 2021 to July 2022. 

The selection is split equally between Israeli and international projects.

The Israeli projects include Inbar Horesh’s drama Birth Right, which follows a young Russian woman who embarks on a ’birthright tour’ to Israel, having recently discovered she has Jewish roots at her father’s funeral.

Horesh recently attended the spring 2021 session of the Cannes Film Festival’s residency programme in Paris with the project. 

It won the CNC development prize in July, decided by a jury comprising filmmaker Karim Aïnouz, Lincoln Center programmer Florence Almozini and producer Gabrielle Dumon and awarded to projects participating in the residency across the year. 

Oshri Zeituni will participate with her debut feature American Ice Cream about a young woman living with her fragile, abused mother and brothers in Haifa, who fights against her father’s attempts to reunite the family.

Other Israeli participants include Yair Agmon with Come Baby, about a young couple who discover their unborn child has a severe birth defect; Roni Kuban’s Debts, following a 17-year-old boy whose career dreams are threatened by his father’s misfortunes; and Aleeza Chanowitz’s Elka’s Not A Shiksa about a woman with 24 hours to save her best friend from what she believes will be a disastrous marriage.

Writer Lev Brodinsky is also attending with Milk & Honey about a teenage immigrant living with his family in a government build temporary caravan site in the early 1990s.

International projects

The international selection feartures Zejtune,  the second feature of US-based Maltese director Alex Camilleri after his Sundance prizewinner Luzzu. It reunites him with The White Tiger filmmaker Ramin Barhani and Rebecca Anastasi, who produced his debut feature.

It revolves around a woman who is introduced to the ancient art of Maltese folk singing when she takes on the responsibility of caring for her previously estranged grandfather.

Albanian director Erenik Beqiri participates with After Dark. Set against the Albanian capital of Tirana, it revolves around a young couple whose quest to get married is complicated by the fact that one of them is a vampire.

Belgian director Catherine Cosme attends with Fist Fights revolving around a mother and her 12-year-old autistic son, who embarks on a new stage of his life when starts a new school and falls in love.

Mathieu Volpe participates with Red Gold about a woman who travels from Cameroon to southern Italy to repatriate the body of her son, where she discovers he was living as an exploited tomato picker.

The other international projects include Danish director Illum Jacobi’s Trance Mountain, about an ambassador’s wife who escapes from a psychiatric hospital, and German filmmaker Lillah Halla’s surreal musical comedy Flehmen Response in which a broth made from the meat of suicidal horses triggers an unexpected effect.

“We are grateful to continue our cross-cultural discourse despite global conditions. I’m extremely excited by the 12 new projects – diverse in story and tone, all questioning the cinematic form,” said JSFL director Aurit Zamir.

Launched in 2011, the lab has supported more than 100 projects to date. Past participants include Laszlo Nemes’s Oscar-winner Son Of Saul, Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s San Sebastian best film winner Beginning and Antoneta Kusijanović’s Murina which won Cannes’ Caméra d’Or this year, after world premiering in Directors’ Fortnight. 

The lab will culminate with a pitching session and awards ceremony in Jerusalem in July. The lab is also planning special events and artistic initiatives which will include contributions from leading alumni who also include Philippe Lacote and Nadav Lapid.

The full line-up:

After Dark (Fr-Albania)
Dir. Erenik Beqiri
Prod. Olivier Berlemont, Origine Films (Fr), On Film Production (Al)

American Ice Cream (Isr)
Dir. Oshri Zeituni
Prod. Kobi Azran, Kobi Azran Productions

Birth Right (Isr)
Dir. Inbar Horesh
Prod. Maya Fischer, Green Productions

Come Baby (Isr)
Dir. Yair Agmon
Prod. Tal Becher, Yalla Films

Debts (Isr)
Dir. Roni Kuban
Producer. David Mandil, Movie Plus Productions

Elka’s Not A Shiksa (Isr)
Dir. Aleeza Chanowitz
Prod. Alona Refua, Green Productions

Fist Fights (Bel)
Dir. Catherine Cosme
Prod. Julie Esparbes, Hélicotronc

Flehmen Response (Ger)
Dir. Lillah Halla
Prod. Julia Niethammer, Chromosom Film

Milk & Honey (Is)
Scr. Lev Brodinsky
Prod. Yael Perlov and Alma Ben-Zeev

Red Gold (It-Bel)
Dir. Mathieu Volpe
Prod. Delphine Tomson, Les Films du Fleuve

Trance Mountain (Den)
Dir. Illum Jacobi
Prod. Katja Adomeit, Adomeit Film

Zejtune (Malta-US)
Dir. Alex Camilleri
Prods. Ramin Bahrani, Noruz Films, Rebecca Anastasi, Luzzu