Imagine if Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, and Leonardo Dicaprio were making a movie together. That’s essentially what you have in Karaoke as it stars three of the biggest names in Israeli cinema in Sasson Gabay, Rita Shukrun, and Lior Ashkenazi. Between the three of them they have 16 nominations and eight wins at the Israeli version of the Oscars. Several of those wins come from this film as Karaoke was nominated for nine Israeli Academy Awards and took home two wins for Gabay and Shukrun as Best Actor and Actress.
Karaoke won the hearts of audiences across Israel because so many people see themselves in the two main characters, aging couple Meir and Tova. They still love each other, but much of the spark is gone from their marriage. However, things change when a mysterious man named Itzik moves into the penthouse of their building. He has wild friends and throws loud parties (including a long line of people waiting to use Itzik’s stellar karaoke machine). The residents of this quiet apartment building don’t know what to make of him. When a chance encounter leads Itzik to invite Meir and Tova to his place for drinks, the couple finds emotions awakening in them that they have not felt in years.
Karaoke is funny, passionate, and honest. The story is a mix of relationships, jealousy, social-climbing, and renewal of spirit. But the secret sauce here is the stellar cast. They take characters who could seem like caricatures and turn them into people we care about and relate to.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about all this is that the film comes from a director making his first feature-length film. Moshe Rosenthal has done some short films and TV episodes, but nothing like directing three established Israeli superstars. He also wrote the screenplay for Karaoke and is now seen as one of the major rising stars of the Israeli film industry. The AJFF is thrilled to announce that Moshe Rosenthal will be in attendance at our screening of his award-winning film, Karaoke, so you can hear from him about how this splendid piece of cinema came together.