Israel Film Festival at Ithaca College

By David Maley, March 16, 2017

Israel Film Festival at Ithaca College

The fourth annual Israel Film Festival (IFF) at Ithaca College will be held on March 25, 29 and 30 and will feature three documentaries illustrating stories from life in Israel and beyond. IFF has partnered with local theater Cinemapolis to present the third film of the series, which will be screened there on the festival’s closing night. The showings on campus will be free, while tickets for the Cinemapolis showing will be at the theater’s regular admission price.

All communities are welcomed to learn about Israel’s culture, through the personal stories of people with Down Syndrome in “My Hero Brother,” the art of dancing in “Mr. Gaga,” and the remarkable stories of Israeli Holocaust survivors in “The Essential Link: The Story of Wilfrid Israel.”

Panel discussions focusing on multiple aspects of the film will follow each screening.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Israel is Real,” highlighting human elements of Israel life and culture exclusively through documentary film selections, a first for the festival.

“This year’s festival portrays a unique reality through art, disabilities and history with a selection of vibrant and diverse Israeli cinema,” said Mirit Hadar, lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the IFF co-founder and director. “We are honored to present these films around Ithaca communities, and for the first time, in downtown Ithaca at the Cinemapolis theater.”

Saturday, March 25
My Hero Brother
7:30 p.m. reception, 8:30 p.m. screening, Park Hall Auditorium
Discussion: Q&A with director Yonatan Nir

A group of remarkable young people with Down Syndrome embark on a demanding trek through the India Himalayas, accompanied by their brothers and sisters. Unresolved conflicts and the complexities of growing up with a Down Syndrome child in the family come to surface, while a heartwarming and special closeness develops among the siblings as they deal with formidable physical and emotional challenges. Through the eye of the camera, we catch a glimpse into the internal world of those with Down Syndrome, and are led on our own journey of discovery and admiration, as their inspiring natural qualities begin to emerge: wholesomeness, direct and honest emotional expression, and the capacity to feel and communicate unconditional love.

Wednesday, March 29
The Essential Link: The Story of Wilfrid Israel
7 p.m., Textor 102
Discussion: Director Yonatan Nir and Michael Richardson, professor of modern languages and literatures

Wilfrid Israel, the owner of a department store in the center of Berlin, was one of the great saviors of Jews during the Holocaust and played a key role in the Kindertransport operation. Filmmaker Yonatan Nir, who was born on the kibbutz in northern Israel where Wilfrid’s name was known but his story​ ​was kept secret​, takes us on an adventure as he searches for the mysterious hero, and the reasons​ for his disappearance ​from history.

Thursday, March 30
Mr. Gaga
6:20 p.m. workshop, 7:00 p.m. screening, Cinemapolis, 120 E. Green St.

Workshop: “Gaga Dance Workshop” by Lindsay Gilmour, assistant professor of theatre arts, and students in her modern dance class
Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, is regarded as one of the most important choreographers in the world. Meeting him at a critical turning point in his personal life, this spirited and insightful documentary will introduce you to a man with great artistic integrity and an extraordinary vision. Filmed over a period of eight years, director Tomer Heymann mixes intimate rehearsal footage with an extensive unseen archive and breathtaking dance sequences.

The Israel Film Festival is sponsored by Hillel at Ithaca College, the Ithaca College Jewish studies program, the Ithaca Area United Jewish Community, the New Fund for Cinema and TV, Student Alliance for Israel at Ithaca College, and J Street U at Ithaca College. For more information, visit or contact