Fill the Void, Out in the Dark and Six Acts were among the winners at the 28th Haifa International Film Festival, which ran Sept 29-Oct 8.

Two strange bedfellows are sharing the top awards in this year’s Israeli film competition at the Haifa Film Festival. One of them, Rama Burshtein’s Fill the Void, takes place in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community, the other, Michael Mayer’s Out in the Dark, is a gay love story between an Israeli and a Palestinian, together they picked Best Film honors ex-aequo, with Burshtein’s cameraman, Assaf Sudri, collecting the Best Cinematography Award.

The other big winner in Haifa was Jonathan Gurfinkel’s raw, uncompromising Six Acts, a fierce portrait of spoiled youth, inspired by a real-life incident. Gurfinkel’s picture took home the First Film Award, also Best Script for Rona Segal and Best Actress for Sivan Levy. A special distinction for artistic contribution was handed to Assia Naifeld, the lead actress in Sharon Bar-Ziv’s Room 514. Veteran Moshe Ivgy is Best Actor for his performance in Idan Hubel’s The Cutoff Man. Much awarded Anath Zuriah has the Best Documentary recognition for The Lesson, in which she moves from her highly praised recent forays into the state of women in the Jewish Orthodox community, to the condition of women in the Arab society.

The Golden Anchor, distributed by the festival in the Mediterranean Film Competition, went to Robert Guediguian’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro. A special mention was bestowed on Alain Resnais’ You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

Other guests in Haifa this year include Russia’s Alexander Sokurov, invited to receive a Life Achievement Award, Romanian director Cristian Mungiu who introduced his Cannes-awarded Beyond the HIlls, Hungary’s Bence Fliegauf with his Berlin winner Just the Wind, and Pavel Lungin and his latest feature film, The Conductor.

More guests include Ariel Vromen, whose The Iceman recently played in Venice and Toronto, Palestinian actress/director Hiam Abbass, whose The Inheritance played in the Israeli Films competition, also Roberto Olla, head of Eurimages and Kristen Niehuus of the BBM Berlin Fund, who participated in the festival’s pitching sessions. A tribute to the memory of the late Theo Angelopoulos, a frequent guest in the past, took place in the presence of his wife, Phoebe, and his daughter, Katerina. It included several of the Greek master’s works and a concert of music from his films, played by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra with composer Eleni Karaindrou at the piano.

All photos by Gustavo Hochman