Magazine article Screen International

Jerusalem Commemorates Lia Van Leer

Magazine article Screen International

Jerusalem Commemorates Lia Van Leer

Article excerpt

The Jerusalem Film Festival commemorated its late founder Lia van Leer on Monday night with a series of affectionate personal tributes.

Hitting the international film festival circuit right up until the end, Van Leer passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 90 in March after falling ill in February during the Berlinale, one of her favourite events on the calendar.

Archive footage revealed how Van Leer had fallen in love with cinema after watching Marcel Carné's 1945 classic Les Enfants Du Paradis. Israeli film-maker Amos Gitai, Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick, European Film Market (EFM) president Beki Probst, personal assistant Mariam Zagiel and long-time friend Vivian Ostrovsky were among those who took to the stage to recall Van Leer.

Kosslick said Van Leer had had a longer relationship with the Berlinale than he still had, some 15 years after taking the helm of the festival. Lia and husband Wim van Leer won the now defunct Golden Bear for best documentary in 1961 as producers of Chris Marker's Description D'un Combat.

"I was 13-years-old and Lia had already won a Bear," said Kosslick. "Lia did nearly every job at the Berlinale. She was the head of the jury, she was godmother with Wim Wenders at the second Talent Campus."

The Berlinale director said they embarked on a "rock and roll love affair" in 2001 when they met in Rotterdam through the late Dutch sales agent Wouter Barendrecht, after she approached him excitedly to discuss a book he had written about beigels.

Amos Gitai recounted how he first met Van Leer as a teenager when she was still living in Haifa. …

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