Magazine article Screen International

New Team Kicks off Jerusalem Festival

Magazine article Screen International

New Team Kicks off Jerusalem Festival

Article excerpt

The 31st Jerusalem Film Festival gets underway today with a new management team determined to present a world-class event despite the escalating troubles in the region.

Aside from postponing the opening-night open-air premiere of Dancing Arabs (see full story here), the team is hoping for business as usual as much as possible.

"No doubt about it, the festival takes place as planned," said CEO Noa Regev yesterday. "We are continuing our lives in the best way possible with the situation around us."

She added: "The escalation in the security situation over the past few days saddens us all, and we hope for days of calm. The Festival will proceed as planned, in accordance with the instructions of Homeland Command and the police. The staff of the Cinematheque hopes to see the Festival venues full with the thousands of film lovers who attend the Festival every year."

More than 200 films from around 50 countries will screen at the enlarged event, which will host industry heavyweights including Spike Jonze, Park Chan Wook, Ulrich Seidl and David Mamet as well as showcase a host of fresh and established local talent.

Regev and artistic director Elad Samorznik are at the helm for the first year - Regev taking over from former Sundance executive Alesia Weston who departed the post after one year - and are driving changes: "We've added some sections in a bid to bring new, younger audiences to the festival," explains Regev, the former head of the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival who also serves as the director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Former Haifa programmer Samorznik expands: "We have a Midnight Screenings section with horror, zombie, action films and comedies; Cinemania is a new section for cinephiles about filmmakers; we have a new competition strand for children; the debut section has become competitive; we have new outdoor screening venues in the Old City with Arabic subtitles, and we have introduced new competitive section Fringidair for Israeli independent cinema."

Despite the spirit of renewal, Regev is also keen to stress continuity with the festival's history as a forum for intelligent debate and a platform for classic filmmaking: "We're not making a revolution here. It helps that we have some young staff with a lot of passion, energy and new perspectives on cinema and how a festival should play out, but that staff also has great appreciation for the history and heritage of cinema and of this festival. …

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