Kosmorama Film Festival is still running and shuttling around to the four different cinemas where The Haifa International Film Festival (HIFF) is held this week. The film festival takes place every fall, during the weeklong holiday of Sukkot. That means this week of the year; the city is full of women, men and children of all ages. 300.000 of them goes to not only the four cinema venues the festival is held in, but also to the free cinema screens all over the city and parks for everybody to enjoy in the heat of the night.
Ah yes, Sukkot is an agricultural festival that originally was considered a thanksgiving for the fruit harvest. Sukkot are hut-like structures that the Jews lived in during the 40 years of travel through the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. Today, the good thing is also that every body watching films can wave off the heat with various branches from various bushes. Kosmorama Film Festival has of course the olive branch.
HIFF has a Board of Directors, which is composed of film and culture professionals and public figures. The festival is supported by the City of Haifa, the Ministry of Education, the Israeli Film Council and the European Union, as well as commercial companies.
As far as the international film scene goes, HIFF is a type of summation of the larger festivals such as Berlin, Venice, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, and Cannes. But as a smaller festival we are impressed of the many directors that are here to introduce and talk about their films. The festival also has a focus on the Israeli film scene, pitching scene and industry with films made by Israeli. For the last years the Israeli film scene has been booming. This year we will see on the big screen films such as Yuval Delshad’s, Baba Joon, a Farsi-language movie made by an Iranian-Israeli director and a group of Iranian-born actors. This film is also the Israel’s entry to this year’s Academy Awards.
The very interesting and exiting thing about experiencing HIFF is being a guest, especially in the cinema theatres. HIFF takes its pride in taking care of its audience. This audience has already thirty-one years of experience going to the festival. We see this in the overbooked cinemas and the age of its main demographic that is between fifty – sixty +. Kosmorama Film Festival talked to a few. We were told that some of them had been coming to the festival every year since its beginning, and indeed they brought their whole family to the “party”.
They place kids & teenagers at the beach from 10:00 – 14:00 with their parents while grandparents are at the HIFF. At 14:00 they switch so the parents can go to HIFF, then they have a switch again at 19:00 so the grandparents can stay to the end of the night at HIFF. Meanwhile parents, kids and teenagers enjoy the free family films scattered around the city.
Being in the audience is at times a great interactive experience. The public will scream at you if you as much as blink at your phone during a screening, and that is several rows back, the audience will clap their hands loudly if there is something they are not happy with and especially if the start of the film runs too late. And films do run a late start, when everybody is welcome to take their time to get to their seat. You have a question after the film? Never mind if the director is there or not – there is bound to be someone else to answer – so speak up if you have something to ask or say.
So lets focus on the film up there at the screen, it might give us a look at the bigger picture of the world!