Film of the Month: Alma Ha’rel

Posted January 4th, 2017 by Matt Turner

Alma Har’el is an Israeli-American filmmaker and music video director, best known for her boundary blurring feature documentaries Bombay Beach (2011) and LoveTrue (2016).

Born in Israel, Har’el began her career as a photographer and VJ, most prominently video mixing for Balkan Beat Box. Melding video with music, and interacting with musicians in this way led to her directing a number of high profile music videos, for artists including Beirut, Fanfare, Jack Penate and Sigur Ros. Her video for Beirut, Elephant Gun, saw her receive a VMA nomination for Best Directorial Debut, and the Shia Labeouf starring video she produced for Sigur Ros as part of their Valtari Mystery Film ExperimentFjögur piano, was an immediate online success, and has received millions of views since its release.

Har’el’s first feature, 2011’s Bombay Beach, a very distinctive, accomplished and challenging debut that gravitated much attention towards her. Set on South California’s Salton Sea, Bombay Beach captures the lives of three characters living there, mixing choreographed and observational material, making a dreamlike collage set to music composed by Beirut’s Zach Condon. Filmmaker Magazine, in an article proclaiming Ha’rel one of their 25 new filmmakers to watch at the time, wrote that the film is “stunningly shot and formally audacious” and “a rare bird, the type of film that seems to be building its own cinematic language from the ground up.” The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit ‘Truer than Fiction’ Award, and won ‘Best Feature Documentary’ at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Ha’rel’s next feature, LoveTrue emerged five years later, to similar acclaim. Also a triptych of stories, LoveTrue concerns itself with exploring human perception of love and relationships, capturing three distinct American relationships as they develop. LoveTrue won best documentary feature at the 2016 Crested Butte Film Festival and the Grand Prix Best Documentary Award at the 2016 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, as well as a host of other festival screenings following it’s Tribeca premiere.

She has also directed a number of commercials for high profile clients like AirBnB, Stella Artois and Mark Zuckerberg’s project, and was Global Creative Director at from 2014 until the company’s acquisition last year. In 2016, Har’el founded Free The Bid, an initiative designed to fight gender bias in the advertisement industry by demanding ad agencies include at least one female director every time they triple-bid a commercial production.

LoveTrue has been picked up by Dogwoof for distribution in the UK, and will in cinemas in time for Valentines Day.

Film of the Month is open for short film submissions until January 14th. The three films with the most votes from a shortlist of twelve will be send to Alma for her esteemed feedback and advice. The top three also win Vimeo+ memberships.

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