Story-ideas-1011172

Israel’s Home Made wows Durban

  • IsraeliFilmMaker1
Award-winning young Israeli filmmaker Shira Meishar said her eyes were opened to a whole new world during her visit to South Africa for the recent Durban International Film Festival.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Aug 02, 2018

“It is an amazing country, with incredible people,” she told the SA Jewish Report this week, shortly after showcasing her award-winning short film Home Made at the festival.

“I have learnt so much here,” she said with reference to the number of international film makers and industry players present at the festival.

As it has done over the past 38 years, the festival – hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts – brought film lovers and filmmakers from across the globe to Durban this year for a feast of cinema for ten days, from 19 to 29 July.

“It is a big event attracting so many people from so many countries,” said Meishar, “I also met people from local communities who responded so well to my film.”

Home Made is 13 minutes long, but it effortlessly captures a lifetime of emotions in a masterful short space of time.

The provocative narrative stars award-winning Israeli actress Evgenia Dodina. It was released in 2017, and went on to win the award for best script at the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival 2017. It also won first prize for best film at the LongShort Festival in Tel Aviv in 2017. The film has been screened at festivals in Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, among them the prestigious Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, according to Meishar.

The film is about a woman who is supposed to be going home to her partner to celebrate her 50th birthday after a long day’s work at a restaurant. However, she lands up staying a little longer to serve dinner to a passing stranger and a little boy.

While in South Africa, the Jerusalem-based Meishar, 26, held a screening of the film at the Luthuli Museum outside of Durban, which she said was one of the highlights of her and film editor Tamar Ben Baruch’s trip.

Said Ben Baruch: “The students at Luthuli Museum were so excited to see us and engage with us. They enjoyed the film, and asked so many meaningful questions about it.”

Meishar said she thought the students wouldn’t understand the essence of the film, with its nuanced references to the intimacy shared between strangers.

”I was so wrong. They got it,” she said.

Both experienced the warmth of the local community, and the eagerness of some people to engage with them about Israel, its politics, and lifestyle. They had many meaningful interactions.

“Many people we came across had never spoken to Israelis before. It was interesting for all of us to engage. They didn’t reject us, and were open and interested in what we had to say,” she said.

The two spent shabbat with the Cape Town community in Sea Point, which they described as very special.

The Durban Film Festival, they said, focussed on women’s rights and violence against women, which they found interesting.

Festival Manager Chipo Zhou said they had “book-ended” the festival with films that told stories about women, their strength, and their resilience.

Meishar said they learnt a lot about diversity, racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, and generally about women in this changing landscape.

Meishar studied at the Ma’aleh Film School of Jerusalem. Home Made is her graduate assignment.

Another one of her films, the 12 minute drama Inside Outside, which was completed in 2014 in the second year of her studies, was screened at the Manhattan Film Festival, the California Shorts International Film Festival, and Atlanta Shortsfest.

Her graduate documentary, Hanna is Beautiful, released in January 2015, has been shown at many film festivals worldwide, she said.

Meishar focuses on short films, a medium she finds “challenging and exciting”.

“It is like poetry where every word counts, except here, every frame counts, every camera angle and shot counts.”

She has her eye on creating feature films, and is working on a script.

The Durban Film Festival is organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, National Film and Video Foundation, and Durban Film Office.

“We loved the festival. It is the biggest in Africa, and the films were of excellent quality,” said Meishar, who hopes to visit South Africa again soon.

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