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First Israeli Film Festival in New York to Open Next Month

December 24, 1981
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The first Israeli film festival in New York will open next month, presenting American viewers with the latest achievements of the growing movie industry in Israel. From January 13-21, 12 feature films — comedies, dramas and musicals — will be shown at the Manhattan I Theater on the East Side and the Continental Theater in Forest Hills, Queens.

The organizers of the festival expect at least 25,000 viewers to participate in the event. The festival is sponsored by The Israel Trade Center in New York, the Israel Film Center in Jerusalem, and the Fund for Quality Films in Tel Aviv. The Festival is produced by International Film Festival Productions (IFFP).

“The main purpose of the festival is to create a steady market for Israeli films,” according to Meir Fenigstein, executive director of IFFP. “We intend to make the festival a yearly event, to focus the attention of American audiences on the movie industry in Israel, which has produced in recent years a few films that any country in the world can be proud of,” Fenigstein said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

FILM INDUSTRY STILL STRUGGLING

Fenigstein, who is well known throughout Israel as a member of the singing troupe, Puggi, said, however, that despite some impressive movies made recently in Israel the film industry there is still struggling, coping with numerous problems, some of them unique to Israel because of the limited domestic market. The festival is an effort to break into the American market, to broaden the prospects and future of Israeli movie directors, actors and other film professionals.

According to Amir Malin, who is the partner of Fenigstein, Israel produces every year eight to 10 films, most of them light comedies. “But recently, the trend in the Israeli movie industry is toward the small budgeted artistic drama,” Malin contended, comparing the present state of the Israeli film industry to that of Australia five years ago.

Australia in the last two years, has become the producer of highly acclaimed movies which also were worldwide commercial successes. Malin said that the average budget of an Israeli feature film is between $300,000 and $400,000.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE FESTIVAL

According to Fenigstein and Malin, the highlight of the festival will be the New York Premiere of director Mira Recanati’s drama, “A Thousand Little Kisses.” Ms. Recanati, 31, who is regarded as Israel’s most promising young film director, is expected to attend the opening of her film, the story of two generations of women and the way they react to the death of a husband and father. The film is currently under consideration for nomination in the best foreign film category for the 1981 Academy Awards.

Other new films, not shown previously in New York, are “An Intimate Story,” by director Nadav Levitan, a drama about the breakup of a marriage; “Repeat Dive,” directed by Shimon Dotan, the story of a naval commando mission; and the comedy “Lemon Popsicle (2)” directed by Boaz Davidson.

“The Thin Line,” Michal Bat Adam’s drama, and the “Troup,” a musical comedy by Avi Nesher, which were recently shown here and were warmly received by critics and audiences alike, will also be shown during the festival. Organizers of the festival said they hoped to extend the Israeli film festival to other major cities across the United States.

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