Film Fest to hold virtual screening in January

By Reporter staff

The Jewish International Film Fest of Greater Binghamton will hold a virtual showing of the Israeli romantic-comedy “Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive” directed by Yossi Atia and David Ofek. The film is in Hebrew (with subtitles) and English. It was named Best First Film (Yossi Atia) – Jerusalem Film Festival in 2019. A discussion on “Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive” will be moderated by Stephen A. Lisman, Ph.D., distinguished teaching professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, Binghamton University.

People will be able to register on the Federation website, The film will be streamed free for up to 100 computers. After Shabbat ends on Saturday, January 30, a link to the film will be sent to those who sign up in advance. The film will be available for viewing on personal devices for 24 hours. On Sunday, January 31, at 7:30 pm, Lisman will facilitate the online video discussion of the film.

“Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive” begins when Jerusalem native Ronen Matalon (Yossi Atia) overhears a tour guide offering a sanitized version of his hometown’s recent history. This inspires him to begin his own “Terror Tour,” taking tourists to famous bombing sites and giving them his take on the absurdity of everyday life during the terrorist attacks of the 1990s and 2000s. On one of his tours he meets Asia, an ex-Jerusalemite living in Barcelona, and their relationship challenges him to begin healing from the trauma that envelops his emotional life.

Atia co-directed and stars in the film, which is based on his performance art piece “From Trauma to Fantasy” that was part of a 2010 public arts festival in Jerusalem. Both performance piece and film were inspired by Atia’s experiences during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). Ofek, who co-directed the film with Atia, has been called one of the leading filmmakers in Israel. Working in both documentary and drama, Ofek is said to “peel away the layers of Israeli reality, presenting a picture that is at times complex and uncomfortable, but always with a caring caress.”

Critics have called the film “a sensitive and hilarious debut from director, writer and star Yossi Atia” that “deftly blends romantic comedy with the complexities of modern life in a style reminiscent of Albert Brooks.” The film has also been described as “a darkly quirky semi-autobiographical romance, between Ronen, who guides tours around the famous terror attack sites in Jerusalem as a way of coping with his own nightmares, and a girl with a thirst for life.”

“The Film Fest Committee thought a good way to beat the early winter blues would be to screen a film and have a lively discussion,” said Shelley Hubal, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton. “Plus, there’s no need to worry about snow! You can watch the film and participate in the discussion without having to leave the warmth and safety of your home.” 

Hubal added, “The Federation continues to look for ways to keep our community connected during the pandemic. Our motto for this year is ‘Socially Distant, Spiritually Connected’ and the Film Fest is just one of the ways we are making that come true. Join us for this exciting event.”