Hollywood readies for Israel Film Fest

Next to Her

Hollywood will get an injection of Israeli cinema on Thursday evening, as the curtain rises on the 28th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles.

In tune with the fest’s birthday, 28 feature and documentary films representing the best of Holy Land cinema will be screened at the two-week festival, in theaters from Beverly Hills to Encino to North Hollywood.

In true Tinseltown style, the festival’s opening night will be marked with a gala honoring legendary Israeli producer Arnon Milchan (“Gone Girl,” “Pretty Woman,” “Fight Club”), American producer Mace Neufeld “The Hunt for Red October”) and Israeli actress and current It-girl, Dana Ivgy.

“Next to Her,” the Asaf Korman drama that earned Ivgy an Ophir Award, the Israeli equivalent of the Oscar, for her performance as a disabled young woman, will open the festival. Ivgy, who is set to receive the IFF’s Cinematic Achievement Award at this year’s festival, will be on hand, as will “Next to Her” producer Estee Mecklberg.

The festival will also feature a tribute to Menachem Golan, the king of Israeli shlock cinema who put Israeli filmmaking on the map and died earlier this year. That tribute is being held in conjunction with the US premiere of “The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films,” which will screen at the festival on October 30.

“The Israeli film industry is really at its peak right now. This year was one of the best ever for the Israeli film industry, especially looking at the past two decades,” said Meir Fenigstein, the founder and executive director of the Israel Film Festival.

Several of the films being screened will be followed by Q&As with directors and actors. A few highlights include “Apples from the Desert,” about a life-changing journey of an Orthodox mother and daughter; “Farewell Baghdad,” which explores the journey of Israel’s Iraqi-born Jews; and “Hunting Elephants,” the zany, brilliantly-styled heist flick that features a knock-out performance from Patrick Stewart.