Salty Water Wins German Jewish Film Festival 5

The 30th Jewish Film Festival Berlin Brandenburg (JFFB), Germany’s largest Jewish film fest, unveiled this year’s award winners at a gala ceremony in Berlin on Thursday night.

The top prize, the Gershon-Klein award for best feature film went to Salty Water (Südsee), an Israel-set drama by German filmmaker Henrika Kull. Vishniac from U.S. director Laura Bialis took the Gershon-Klein honor for best documentary.

Kull’s feature, which had its world premiere at the Munich film festival last year, is an intimate drama following Anne, a young German, and the Israeli Nuri, who decide to take a mini-break at Nuri’s parents’ house in the mountains between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As the conflict between the Israeli army and Hamas escalates, the pair grows more intimate, with Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system keeping the war at a distance.

“The film is like an afternoon nap in the Israeli sun,” said the JFFB jury in a statement. “It portrays an erotic relationship between an Israeli and a German. It sizzles in a way that only relationships between Israelis and Germans can sizzle. Convincing in its aesthetics, Salty Water is innovative without being pretentious. A beautiful flirtation – even when bombs fall from the blue sky.”

Noé Debré’s French comedy A Good Jewish Boy received a special mention from the jury. The feature looks at Bellisha, a Jewish man who lives with his mother, Giselle in a French suburb that has already lost its synagogue, and will soon lose its last-remaining Kosher grocery story Bellisha and Giselle are officially the last Jews left in the neighborhood.


Anna Wloch

Vishniac is a portrait of the famed photographer Roman Vishniac, who captured iconic images of Jewish life, from the cafes of pre-war Berlin to the shtetls of Eastern Europe. In its statement, the jury said Bialis’ documentary “presents complex themes of historical relevance that resonate in our time and highlights, like a spotlight, the fragmented history of the Vishniac family, spanning from Eastern Europe in the interwar period through Germany to the United States in the postwar era. It speaks to the importance of memory and the preservation of images and archival material as witnesses of lost history. The film is brilliantly crafted and leaves us with many questions.”

Assaf Lapid’s documentary The Return From the Other Planet, a new look at Jewish Holocaust survivor and writer Yehiel De-Nur who called Auschwitz “the other planet,” received a special mention from the JFFB jury.

The Geshon-Klein awards, named in honor of German-Jewish cinema legend Gershon (Gerhard) Klein (Berlin um die Ecke) come with a $3,200 (€3,000) cash bursary, sponsored by Klein’s daughters Madeleine Budde and Jacqueline Hopp.

The 30th JFFB runs through June 24.

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