A still from "Kiss Me Kosher," which is streaming as part of the Sonoma Israeli Film Festival.
A still from "Kiss Me Kosher," which is streaming as part of the Sonoma Israeli Film Festival.

It’s Year 2 online for Sonoma JCC’s annual Israel film fest

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The Israeli Film Festival that’s produced annually by the JCC of Sonoma County will continue a newish tradition in 2021: This will be the event’s second straight year of being held virtually.

Five new Israeli films will be available for on-demand streaming for 22 days starting March 12. Live talks will allow the community to interact with the filmmakers and are included with the price of a ticket.

Two comedies, two dramas and one documentary comprise the program, all with subtitles.

The drama category includes “Asia,” a delicate exploration of strained family intimacy, and “Here We Are,” a father-son road movie. Both feature parent-child relationships in which the child struggles with a disease or disorder.

“Asia” is about a single mother (Alena Yiv) and her daughter (Shira Haas of “Shtisel” and “Unorthodox” fame) who have emigrated from Russia yet find themselves estranged in their new life in Israel. The daughter is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and as she suffers her inevitable decline, the pair draw closer together. Directed by newcomer Ruthy Pribar, the intense, understated film and fine acting earned nine Israeli Oscars, including best picture, best actress, and best supporting actress, and is Israel’s submission for best foreign language film for the Academy Awards.

In “Here We Are,” Aharon has devoted his life to raising his autistic son Uri. Facing a decision about moving Uri to a specialized group home for young adults, Aharon decides to take him on a bicycle trip, which ends up being fraught with emotion and misadventures. Directed by Nir Bergman with performances by Shai Avivi  and Noam Imber, the film was nominated for nine Israeli Oscars.

The two comedies are “Forgiveness,” a goofball buddy film set in the south of Israel near the Gaza border, and “Kiss Me Kosher,” in which cross-cultural and same-sex romantic choices test the values and unity of traditional Jewish Israeli families.

The documentary is “Mrs. G,” the story of designer Lea Gottlieb, founder of the Gottex swimwear empire. A Holocaust survivor and a woman with many contradictions, the late Gottlieb achieved phenomenal success in the post-War era. The 56-minute film explores Gottlieb’s extraordinary creativity, her dominant personality, complex relationships and personal passions, for which she paid a price.

The sixth annual Israeli Film Festival will run from March 12 through April 2, with $14 and $24 tickets for individual films going on sale March 5. Festival passes are on sale as of Feb. 26 and are $60 for one person and $80 per family. For more information, visit jccsoco.org.

Laura Pall
Laura Paull

Laura Paull was J.'s culture editor from 2018 to 2021.