Jerusalem Film Festival: 'The Dive,' 'Red Cow,' 'Dogman' Win Top Honors

Cannes - IN COMPETITION – FEATURE FILMS - DOGMAN Still 2 - Publicity -H 2018
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

The 35th edition of the festival presented new Israeli works — including seven features and eight documentary films — in competition.

The award for best film of the 35th Jerusalem Film Festival was a tie between two films this year: Yona Rozenkier's The Dive and Tsivia Barkai-Yacov's Red Cow.

In The Dive, three brothers reunite for a weekend to bury their father before going to war. They practice the same violent training taught to them by their father on their deserted kibbutz. As the war rages on around them, their practice training spirals out of control.  

In Red Cow, Benny, an only child, lives with her fundamentalist father in East Jerusalem, who believes a certain heifer will bring the redemption. Benny finds her own redemption in a young new woman in her life, who will help to shape her own religious and sexual consciousness. 

In total seven Israeli films were competing for the main prize. The top two films will share the $27,000 prize for best Israeli feature, decided by a jury composed of Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer, Israeli director Anat Yuta Zuria, Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska and French cinematographer Caroline Champetier. 

Matteo Garrone's Dogman, about a simple dog groomer pulled into a world of crime, won best international film, which also comes with a $20,000 prize. The film, which premiered in Cannes this year, also took home the best actor there for its lead, Marcello Fonte. 

The jury, British critic Fionnuala Halligan, Match Factory CEO Michael Weber and Israeli director Elite Zexer, said of the film, "This is a film that fills its viewers with a wide range of emotions. Happiness, love, laughter, sadness, anger: there is no emotion that the audience does not experience while watching 95 minutes of filmmaking at its best." 

A special mention for international filmmaking was also awarded to Border by Ali Abbassi. 

And the best Israeli documentary award, along with a $13,500 prize went to Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life, by Tomer Heymann. The film is a rare look a the world of gay porn and escorting, as well as a unique mother and son relationship. 

Among other prizes, The Oslo Diaries by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan won best screenplay. Yoel Rozenkier and Micah Rozenkier won best actor awards for The Dive. Avigayil Koevary won best actress for Red Cow. And Oded Ashkenazi won best cinematographer for The Dive

Shaked Goren won best documentary director for My War Hero Uncle. Tal Rabiner and Alex Khosid won best editing for Jonathan Agassi Saved my Life. And Assaf Talmudi won best music for his work on Redemption

The audience favorite feature film went to Redemption by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov. And the audience favorite for documentary film went to Wild Kids by Tal Pesses. 

Jerusalem Film Festival continues with a final weekend of screenings through Aug. 5.