Boston Israeli Film Festival spotlights diverse, exciting lineup

For Lisa Gossels, the artistic director of this week’s Boston Israeli Film Festival (BIFF), part of the challenge and reward of programming is the films themselves – and the reactions they can provoke.

In selecting movies she chooses “what our community and Boston-area audiences will be excited to see.”
Gossels looks at both subject matter and issues. “This year, 50% of the films in our festival are directed by women.  Festivalgoers will find films about love and family relationships. People longing for and seeking connection. A range of social justice issues, and overcoming adversity and moving through trauma to healing.”

Beginning Sunday, then on March 21 and 23, BIFF presents four in-person programs and then virtually from March 26-29 with three programs.

“This is only the second festival I’ve programmed,” she said, “but I’m always looking for representation to hopefully experience different perspectives in nonfiction and fiction.”

“The Narrow Bridge” she calls, “An extraordinary documentary from an expert on how people find new agency through trauma. Here are four remarkable individuals she met working in this hospital.  We learn their stories and how they come together through pain to build bridges and find our common humanity. Often,” she added, “these hospitals have equal representation between Palestinians and Israelis.”

“Concerned Citizen” is a LGBTQ picture from a filmmaker who “drew from events in his real life. It’s about two gay men who live in a gentrified section of Tel Aviv.  He plants a tree outside their building, something happens and two African immigrants are brutalized by the police. I programed it because of how gritty and authentic it is. The filmmaker calls it a social satire, how this man tries to right a wrong decision. It’s about power and privilege. And existential guilt.”

The opening film on Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is “The Artist’s Daughter, Oil on Canvas” where the artist father and his filmmaker daughter have been estranged for a decade. She hopes that by making a film about her father’s self-portraits they may reach an understanding. “It’s a journey — and one of the most original and surprising films.”

The closing night film at the Coolidge Corner March 23 is “America” where a former Israeli champion swimmer leaves his Chicago home to return to Israel for his father’s funeral. He reunites with his swimming partner – and meets his buddy’s Ethiopian fiancée. “It’s a love triangle that never becomes one or is explicit,” Gossels said.

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