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Israel Film Festival wrapped

The 23rd Israel Film Festival closed its most successful engagement in its history of presenting events in New York, Los Angeles and Miami on Thursday, November 13th in New York with the announcement by Meir Fenigstein, Founder and Executive Director of the IFF, of the winner of the coveted PANAVISION AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD to THE SECRETS, written and directed by Avi Nesher and produced by Nesher and David Silber.
THE SECRETS, the Festival’s Closing Night film, will be released in NY by Montery Media on Thanksgiving Week.

The Panavision Audience Choice Award is presented to the feature film receiving the most votes from the NY audience. The winning producer and director will receive a $60,000 package including a full month’s use of a 35mm Panavision camera package to shoot their next film in Israel.

Audience Awards were also presented in the categories of Best Documentary (CHILDREN OF THE SUN directed by Ran Tal), and Best Student Short (ROADS directed by Lior Geller from Tel Aviv University).

This year’s Festival showcased more than 30 new feature films, provocative documentaries, ground-breaking TV dramas, and innovative student films celebrating Israeli life and culture. The 23rd Israel Film Festival presented over 10 U.S. Premieres, 5 East Coast Premieres and 7 NY Premieres. Israeli films have been taking the world by storm in recent years – winning over 177 major international awards this year alone!!

“I was very moved by the audience’s reactions to the Israeli films we presented this year,” stated Meir Fenigstein. “With over 26 screenings totally sold out and lines stretching down Broadway, the energy and excitement I experienced from the public as well as the filmmakers at this year’s festival truly highlight the terrific creative voices in Israeli filmmaking. It was a wonderful way to help celebrate Israel’s 60th Anniversary.”

Festival highlights included the sold out screening of Rashef Levy’s LOST ISLANDS (the fest’s Opening Night Film), Assaf Bernstein’s THE DEBT, Lynn Roth’s THE LITTLE TRAITOR and Eliezer (Laizy) Shapiro’s television drama, SRUGIM. Other highlights included the Homage to Barak & Tomer Heymann, among the leading documentary directors in Israel, and the panel discussions with many of the attending Israeli Filmmakers. Those included Riki Shelach / Producer (ALTALENA); Assaf Bernstein / Director (THE DEBT); Marco Carmel / Director (FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS); Lynn Roth / Director (THE LITTLE TRAITOR); Avi Nesher / Director (THE SECRETS); Igal Burstyn / Director, Shuki Friedman/ Producer (OUT OF THE BLUE); Amos Kollek / Director, Michael Tapuach / Producer (RESTLESS); Reshef Levy / Director, Michael Moshonov / Actor (LOST ISLANDS); Ran Tal / Director (CHILDREN OF THE SUN); Yael Katzir / Director (PRAYING IN HER OWN VOICE); Oded Lotan / Director (THE QUEST FOR THE MISSING PIECE); Boaz Shahak / Director (YOU NEVER KNOW); Barak Heymann / Director (DANCING ALFONSO); Tomer Heymann / Director (OUT OF FOCUS); Barak & Tomer Heymann / Directors, Scriptwriters, Producers (BRIDGE OVER THE WADI); Tomer Heymann / Director, Scriptwriter (IT KINDA SCARES ME); Ori Ravid / Director (ELI & BEN); Eliezer (Laizy) Shapiro / Director (SRUGIM).

The 23rd Israel Film Festival kicked off in New York on October 29th at the Ziegfeld Theatre with its Awards presentation to Oscar nominated and Emmy award winning actor, director, producer and writer, Danny DeVito was the recipient of the Lifetime Visionary Award presented by Michael Douglas. Oscar winning producer and director, Irwin Winkler received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by publisher Mort Zuckerman. And, Oscar winning director, writer, producer, Edward Zwick accepted the Israel Film Festival Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film presented by Liev Schreiber. Lainie Kazan served as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.

A portion of the proceeds from the 23rd IFF will provide scholarships to exceptional Israeli film students from six film schools in Israel including: The Sam Spiegel Film & T.V. School Jerusalem, Sapir Academic College Shderot, Ma'ale School of Television Film & Arts, Tel Aviv University- Film and Television Dept., Hamidrasha Biat – Berl Collage and Tel Hai Communication Center for Cinema. The IsraFest Foundation, presenters of the IFF, will be inaugurating a year round program of scholarships, screenings and opportunities for many of these young Israeli filmmakers to present their work to American audiences and film industry professionals.

The Co-Chairs of the 2008 Israel Film Festival are Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, and Arnon Milchan, Owner/Founder, Regency Enterprises. Opening Night Gala Chairs in Los Angeles and New York were Cheryl and Haim Saban

The 23rd Israel Film Festival will continue its annual event by presenting the third edition of 2008 in Miami from December 9-18. Many of the films and programs that were so overwhelmingly received in New York and Los Angeles will be on tap for the IFF’s Miami audiences.

For more information about the 23rd Israel Film Festival as well as ticket information on the upcoming Miami Festival please call 1-877-966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com.

The Israel Film Festival is presented by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) created in 1982, in association with the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The Festival, celebrating its 23rd year, is the second oldest film festival in Southern California, and one of the only film festival that will visit three American cities. Dates of the Festivals: Los Angeles, June 11 - 26; New York, October 29-November 13; and Miami December 9 – 18, 2008. The Festival has been responsible for introducing Israeli life and culture to American audiences through the powerful medium of film, providing a comprehensive intercultural exchange and has brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the United States to share their art. Through the years, more than 900,000 filmgoers have experienced the best of Israeli cinema by showcasing more than 800 feature films, documentaries, television dramas, short films and student shorts.

This year’s Sponsors include Nu Image / Millennium Films, Cheryl & Haim Saban and the The Saban Family Foundation, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, EL AL Israel Airlines, Harbrew Imports, Israel Film Fund, Israel National Lottery for the Arts, New York Post, Time Warner Cable, Israel Tourist Ministry, Israel Finance Ministry, Aya International, Carmel Car Service, Panavision, Paramount Vantage, HBO, Park Avenue Funding, The Leroy and Shoshanna Schecter Foundation, Bank Leumi USA, Bnai Zion, Dor Chadash, Caesarea Golf Club, Maurice Marciano Family Foundation, Guess Foundation, New Regency Productions, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety, among others.

Presenter Michael Douglas Honoree Danny DeVito IFF Exec Director Meir Fengstein at 23rd Israel Film Festival Opening Gala - photo by Shahar Azra

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