• Awards

Jerusalem Film Festival 2023: Helen Mirren and Oliver Stone to Receive Top Honors

Academy Award and Golden Globe winners Helen Mirren and Oliver Stone are set to headline the celebratory 40th edition of the Jerusalem Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday, July 13 in Israel with the special opening night screening of Golda, starring Mirren as Israel’s historic Prime Minister Golda Meir.


Directed by Academy Award winning Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, Golda follows the intensely dramatic and high-stakes responsibilities and decisions that Prime Minister Meir, also known as the Iron Lady of Israel, faced during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The biographical drama premiered earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, and also stars Golden Globe nominee Liev Schreiber as former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Schreiber is also expected to attend the festival.

During the festival, Mirren will be presented with the JFF Achievement Award, an honor which will also be bestowed upon Oliver Stone and Belgian brothers-director duo, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

According to festival organizers’ official statement, “Helen Mirren has had a long-standing relationship with the State of Israel and its local culture. She volunteered at a kibbutz in the 1960s, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2015, and hosted the Genesis Prize ceremony in 2016. In 2010, she starred as a Mossad agent in the American adaptation of Israeli film The Debt. And now, this relationship reaches new heights with her portrayal of Golda Meir. Israeli audiences have always reciprocated Helen Mirren’s affection, and there is no doubt that she is one of the most beloved actors here. Dame Mirren, although there is no monarchy in Israel – we salute you, we thank you for all your wonderful roles, and your unforgettable contribution to the field of acting and the art of film.”

Regarding Stone, whose latest documentary Nuclear Now will be screened in Jerusalem, the statement reads, “Oliver Stone is one of the most important voices in contemporary American culture. Living up to his name, he’s left no stone unturned to reveal the truth about his homeland’s past and present. Oliver Stone also came to our region when he directed Persona Non Grata, a documentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 20 years ago. Naturally, the subject matters of Oliver Stone’s films, such as war and its outcomes, are quite familiar to Israeli audiences. His films have always enjoyed popularity and recognition and have sparked discussion here as well.”

Lastly on the third recipients, “The films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have been screened consistently at the Jerusalem Film Festival over its 40-year history. Since the tremendous success of Rosetta, local audiences have filled the theaters for each of their new films, always excited to discover what story they’ll tell this time. We proudly present the Dardenne Brothers with the Jerusalem Film Festival Achievement Award. It is the least we can do to thank them for the moments of cinematic grace they have granted us, the inspiration they have provided to audiences and artists, and for their long-standing support of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the festival.”

Founded in 1984 by the Director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and Israeli Film Archive, the late Lia Van Leer, the Jerusalem Film Festival has solidified its prestige as a cinematic event spanning ten days, showcasing between 150-200 films, both international and Israeli.

This year, French director Claire Denis will head the jury for the international competition, while Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó will head the jury for the Israeli competition. Among the filmmakers judging are Florian Zeller, Whit Stillman, Ali Abbasi and Maria Schrader. The film selection includes such festival circuit titles as Nanni Moretti‘s A Brighter Tomorrow, Hong Sang-soo’s In Water, Werner Herzog‘s Theater of Thought, and recent Cannes Winner of the 2023 Palme d’Or, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall.

The program additionally features retrospectives for honorees Stone and the Dardenne brothers, films dealing with humankind’s search for freedom and justice and experimental cinema and video art awards.

“We are happy to open this year’s festival with Guy Nattiv’s Golda, an impressive and immersive international production that provides a glimpse into the most fateful days in the life of one of the key figures in the history of the State of Israel,” told us Elad Samorzik the Artistic Director of the festival via email statement, “The city of Jerusalem is one of a kind. It is a focus of pilgrimage for people of all religions and thanks to the festival, film lovers from Israel and the world come to it. This is the 40th year of the festival, which is the most important and leading film event in Israel, and enjoys a prestigious status in the international arena. The Jerusalem Cinematheque is also a unique place that was crowned by Indiewire as one of the most beautiful cinemas in the world, and in addition we screen films in a series of extraordinary locations throughout this special city.”