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Just before the start of a new conflict between Israel and Palestine, the country’s biggest film festival, the Haifa International Film Festival, was held. We report


In early October, the port city of Haifa in northern Israel hosted the 39th edition of the Hebrew state’s oldest and biggest film festival. A not-to-be-missed event for industry professionals – from French and Italian producers ready to do business in this small country, to Israeli distributors eager to see foreign films – the Haifa International Film Festival offers a wide selection of feature films. We were able to see the cream of international auteur cinema, from the Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall” to Warwick Thornton’s terrific “The New Boy”, starring Cate Blanchett as a renegade nun, not forgetting Jeanne Du Barry, which directed “Maiwenn” presented in several Israeli towns during the festival.

Other films particularly resonated in this country forged by Judaism, such as Cédric Kahn’s “Procès Goldman”, dealing with the underlying anti-Semitism of French society in the 1970s with rare finesse. But above all, there was Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest”, a chilling portrait of the director of the Auschwitz concentration camp, living a quiet and bourgeois with his wife and children in a villa just beyond the camp wall. Domestic bliss, while we constantly hear the screams and rales of the horror taking place on the other side of this wall. You can see the chimney in the distance, and there are ashes on the drying linen. Winner of the Grand Prix at the last Cannes Film Festival, “The Zone of Interest” is one of the great films about the Holocaust, alongside Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” and Alain Resnais’s “Nuit et Brouillard”. Projected in Israel, a country born of these horrors, built by the children of the deportees, this film becomes even more terrible, violent and necessary.

Pierre Charpilloz