When “Ajami,” a collaboration between an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Arab, was nominated for last year’s foreign-language film Academy Award, it marked the third consecutive year that an Israeli film had been among the finalists for the prize. Do the Israelis have a new film that can keep that streak alive?
The answer may already be somewhere on the just-launched Israeli Film Database. The database, a creation of the Israel Film Center at the JCC in Manhattan, has completed its beta stage and is now available to Internet users at www.israelfilmcenter.org.
The Film Center describes the database as “the largest online resource for Israeli films,” and offers a wide range of information, including “streaming videos, movie news, sales contacts, critical reviews and award information.”
That rather unusual collection of materials is the result of the complex set of users with differing needs that the database expects to serve.
“When I first came into this work six years ago, I had trouble just finding Israeli films,” said Isaac Zablocki, the center’s director, in a telephone interview last week. “Through this database eventually you should be able to find not only what a film is about, who’s in and who made it, but where you can get your hands on it to see it. [The database] connects people to our screening library, tells them if the film is for sale or is having a public screening somewhere in the world. Eventually we will have many Israeli films available for streaming online.”
The database will also make it possible for Israeli filmmakers to seek funders and vice versa and for distributors and producers to connect to one another, one of the hardest parts of getting foreign films shown in the U.S.
The timing, Zablocki noted, is not merely serendipitous; it’s the direct result of the blossoming of the Israeli film industry.
“Six years ago was the turning point for the Israeli film industry,” he recounted. “Suddenly there were more films coming out, the Israeli government was increasing its investment. I had some clue things were changing, but I didn’t know it would be such a success.”
Already the database has entries for “a couple thousand films,” Zablocki said. “It’s growing daily, we have hundreds added weekly.”
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