The annual Australian Film Festival opened in Sderot as a gesture of solidarity with its embattled residents.
The festival, which opened Sunday night, usually premieres in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter officially opened the festival with Sen. Michael Forshaw, one of the Australian Parliaments’ most pro-Israel advocates, among the full-house crowd of 150.
The AICE Australian Film Festival symbolizes “the excellent relations between our two countries,” Forshaw told the audience. “Being here tonight, it also enables me to congratulate the achievements of Israel in science, medicine and culture in the face of constant hostilities in the last 60 years.”
Australia Israel Cultural Exchange founder and chair Albert Dadon told JTA, “It’s a simple premise: We hope to bring an element of normality in the lives of the citizens of Sderot.”
Sderot for years has been the target of Palestinian rocket attacks from the nearby Gaza Strip.
The festival, run by the AICE since 2003, showcases Australian movies. The opening-night’s film was “Lucky Miles,” an award-winning film based on the true stories of illegal immigrants to Australia.
Also on hand for the opening was Australian Ambassador to Israel James Larsen.
AICE was founded in 2002 in a bid to build bridges between the two states by showcasing each other’s cultures