From Nov ’06 Spotlight: October’s 42nd annual Chicago International Film Festival included many outstanding new films, five of which (Aviva My Love, Day Night Day Night, Family Law, Flannel Pajamas, and The Fountain) were directed by Jewish filmmakers. Family Law, Flannel Pajamas, and The Fountain all have US distributors and will be coming to theaters in metro Chicago later this year. Aviva My Love won six “Ophir” awards from the Israel Film Academy in September (Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Editing), so we’ll no doubt have more chances to see Aviva as well. I met with filmmakers Darren Aronofsky (writer/director of The Fountain), Jeff Lipsky (writer/director of Pajamas), and Shemi Zarhin (writer/director of Aviva), while they were in town. For more details on the creative visions behind these three films, visit:
The big surprise was Day Night Day Night by newcomer Julia Loktev, which received the FIPRESCI Prize in the “New Directors” competition. This intensely-compelling film follows a suicide bomber for 48 hours as she prepares to detonate a back-pack full of explosives in Times Square. The character has no name, no backstory, and no explicit convictions. As Loktev explained during the Q&A session I attended: “I like movies that don’t tell the audience what to think. I kept her motivations hidden so if you identify with her, you will feel bad about it. She believes in what she’s doing, but we can’t understand what or why.”
For the first 24 hours, we live through the planning phase; in the next 24 hours, we live through the execution phase. What seems well-defined and precise inevitably turns chaotic as the would-be bomber leaves her ideological bubble and re-enters the booming, buzzing confusion of real life. The FIPRESCI jury called Day Night Day Night “pure and innovative cinema.” It is shocking, sobering, and completely heart-breaking.