International Narrative Competition

World Premiere

France, Israel, Belgium | 90 MINUTES | Hebrew | English subtitles


Drama, Female Director(s), First Time Filmmaker, Female Screenwriter(s)
Teenage Lana whiles away the hours in her hometown Kiryat Yam, a run-down beachside community on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. She hangs out with a trio of shiftless boys, keeps an eye on her precocious cousin Tamar, and dreams up an impending move to Tel Aviv, all while waiting for the moment when her mother’s café finally bankrupts her family. But the sudden arrival of an attractive writer, Tchipi, may present solution for both boredom and bottom lines: He spins a local myth into a news report of a mermaid sighting offshore—bringing people back to the city’s beaches. Now, the locals just need to turn this mermaid mania into an event big enough to bring hope and excitement back into their lives.

Director Keren Ben Rafael delivers an appealing narrative feature debut that blends Lana’s coming-of-age tale with elements torn from fantasy and the headlines alike—after all, mermaids have indeed been reported off the Kiryat Yam coast. She gives actress Joy Rieger space to inhabit the rebellious Lana, creating a towering lead performance and weaving a mesmerizing story about the need to believe.

—Dan Hunt


Directed by Keren Ben Rafael

Keren Ben Rafael is a writer-director based in Israel and France. She studied philosophy and French literature at Tel Aviv University and graduated the directing department at La Fémis in Paris. Virgins is her first feature film, preceded by several short films and a personal documentary, that have received awards in festivals, and broadcasted on television.
Keren Ben Rafael
Caroline Bonmarchand
Keren Ben Rafael, Elise Benroubi
Damien Dufresne
Danielle Avizur, Frédéric Baillehaiche
Joy Rieger, Evgenia Dodina, Michael Aloni, Manuel Elkaslassy Vardi, Rami Heuberger


Print Source
Ilaria Gomarasca
Pyramide International
Paris, 75010
Phone: +33 14 296 0220
US Sales Contact
Agathe Valentin
Totem Films
Paris, 75012
Press Contact
Dixon Knox
Cinetic Marketing
New York, NY 10013
Phone: 212 204 7979
International Sales Contact
Agathe Valentin
Totem Films
Paris, 75012