Kino Lorber has picked up North American distribution rights to Cinema Sabaya, a drama from Israeli director Orit Fouks Rotem that is Israel’s official contender for the 2023 Academy Awards in the best international feature category.
The film is a portrait of a group of Arab and Israeli women taking part in a documentary filmmaking workshop. The women, ranging from a devout Muslim mother to a single Jewish woman who lives on a boat, reflect the mosaic of contemporary Israeli society. As part of their workshop, the women are tasked with filming their daily activities and routines. As they share their footage with one another, barriers are broken down and the women learn about each other and themselves.
Rotem based her feature debut on her own personal experience teaching filmmaking to groups of women in Acre and Givat Haviva in Northern Israel.
“At its core, Cinema Sabaya is about the power of cinema: to change people’s lives, to give women a voice and to break down cultural barriers,” said Kino Lorber senior vice president Wendy Lidell.
Cinema Sabaya had its world premiere at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, where it won the best first feature and audience awards. The movie also swept this year’s Ophir Awards, Israel’s equivalent of the Oscars, winning five trophies, including best picture, best director for Rotem and best supporting actress for Joanna Said. Cinema Sabaya also stars Dana Ivgy, Marlene Bajali, Amal Murkus, Ruth Landau, Yulia Tagil, Orit Samuel, Aseel Farhat, Liora Levi and Khawlah Hag-Debsy.
Gal Greenspan, Roi Kurland and Maya Fischer produced Cinema Sabaya for Green Productions. Belgium’s Neon Rouge co-produced.
Kino Lorber is planning a theatrical release for Cinema Sabaya in early 2023 followed by a multi-platform bow. Memento International is handling international sales for the film.
Lidell negotiated the deal with Memento’s head of sales Mathieu Delaunay.