The Other Israel Film Festival is not meant to be a feel good Zionist experience. In its 13th year at Manhattan’s Marlene Meyerson JCC, the eight days of films about minorities and women opened with “Advocate,” the documentary on crusading lawyer Lea Tsemel. After nearly 50 years, no longer a foul-mouthed babe in micro minis, Tsemel’s still defending Palestinian political prisoners. She sardonically jokes that she’s never won a case, but continues to play her advantages as a woman and a Jew. The festival closed with the even darker narrative “Screwdriver.” It’s the relentlessly hopeless tale of a West Bank man welcomed back as a hero by the media, his friends and family after years in an Israeli prison, taking the rap for an attempted murder. His loving family, opportunity for employment, and attractiveness to women can’t save him.
The mid-November festival was punctuated by Gaza rockets fired deep into Israel, Benny Gantz unable to form a cabinet, and the U.S. reversing its 40-year-policy, giving Israel the go-ahead on settlements in the West Bank.