24th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL WRAPS WITH HIGHEST ATTENDANCE RATE AND GROSSES IN A DECADE
Eight Israeli Film School Students Were Presented Production Scholarships
The Israel Film Festival, the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States, concluded its Los Angeles two week run with a new 19,000+ attendance record for the decade and box office receipts up nearly 20%. This year also marked the first time where winners of the Festival’s annual Israel film school scholarship program were flown to Los Angeles to screen their award winning short films, announced Meir Fenigstein, the Founder/Executive Director.
From 33 films submitted for consideration by graduate film students for this year’s film scholarships, eight filmmakers were selected and each was awarded cash and prizes valued up to $2,500. A portion of funds raised from the Opening Night Gala support film production scholarships for Israeli students encouraging these young filmmakers to make their next film in Israel. The Israeli film schools include: Hamidrasha Biat – Berl College(“Elephant Graveyard”) ; Ma’ale School of TV, Films & Arts (“And Thou Shalt Love”); MinsharArt School and Center (“6.5 Minutes in Tel Aviv”); The Sam Spiegel Film& T.V. School Jerusalem (“The Repentace of Raham Im Hanuka”); Saphir Academic College (“Meltdown”) and Tel Aviv University – Film and Television Department.(“The Home Leave”, “Pinchas”); Tel Hai Communication Center for Cinema (“Until We’ll Find a Place”).
“This year far exceeded our expectations despite the economy. People flocked to the theatres eager to see these outstanding films. The success of the Festival shows how much Israeli cinema is flourishing and attracting a wide and diverse audience of all ages. The continued support from media outlets like Clear Channel and Time Warner Cable helped bring an even greater visibility throughout Los Angeles” noted Fenigstein. “We also continue to support up and coming, talented filmmakers, by premiering the work of film school students in Israel who were the first to receive Festival scholarships.”
During the sold out Opening Night Gala among the honorees and presenters were John Fishel, Robert Lantos, Diane Warren, Branko Lustig, Mike Medavoy, Jon Avnet, Lainie Kazan, Jon Voight and Israel Consul General Jacob Dayan. The Festival also hosted over 20 attending filmmakers and actors from Israel, encompassing over 30 movies.
Among the many award winning and acclaimed sold out screenings were “Lost Islands”, Israel’s highest grossing and most honored film last year, which required the Festival to add showings due to audience demand. Other Festival successes included premieres of “Seven Days”, “Eli & Ben”, “For My Father” and “The Mystery of Aris San”.
Under the expert supervision of Fenigstein, The Israel Film Festival is presented by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., in association with the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. The Festival, celebrating its 24th anniversary, is one of the oldest film festivals in Southern California, and the only film festival that will visit three American cities: Los Angeles, June 3 – 18; New York, October 22 – November 5; Miami, December 8 – 17, 2009.
For more information and a recap of all films shown, please visit: www.israelfilmfestival.com.