In Tribeca 2012 there are three Israeli features, considered by critics who saw them in pre-festival screenings to be among the best in Tribeca’s offerings this year.
They are "Yossi," by Eytan Fox, a revisiting of the surviving half of the gay soldier couple of the now-classic "Yossi & Jagger" (Tribeca 2003); "Room 514," a first film by Sharon Bar-Ziv, shot in one room, about an investigation of army abuse; and "The Flat," a documentary that empties out the apartment that the parents of filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger shared in Tel Aviv since they emigrated from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Ephemera and personal property become the telling of family history and part of Jewish history.
Why so many films from one country right before Cannes, which has been a friendly place to Israeli films?
The strategy seems to be, premiere your film in Tribeca to benefit from attention in the world’s largest media market, and then sell it at the market in Cannes, where the world’s buyers congregate.
“Absolutely,” said Frederic Boyer, Tribeca’s new artistic director. “If you don’t get in to Cannes, you have to wait all summer, June is bad, July is bad, and what do you have after that, Locarno? You’ll be waiting for months.”
“April is good,” he said.
Reached in Tel Aviv, Katriel Schory, head of the Israel Film Fund, said, “'Yossi & Jagger' made its US premiere at Tribeca, and the director [Eytan Fox] never forgot that. This is where he wanted to be.”
Frederic Boyer also had something to do with the Israeli decision. “By programming a film like 'Room 514,' he’s given us an idea of his taste, of the kinds of films he wants.”
Schory said that bringing the three films to Tribeca wasn’t just about positioning them for a later sale after the attention that a world premiere could bring in New York.
“It’s both,” he noted, “I believe that Tribeca is a market – some of the Israeli films have done reasonably well in the American market, compared with other foreign language films, that is non-English speaking films.”
“I believe that the American market is extremely important, the New York market is important, and I think that we should really be there,” he said, “The producers of the films told me that they believe there’s more than just Cannes and Berlin.”
Israel will still be present in the market at Cannes. Schory wouldn’t comment on Israeli films in the programs there.