LONDON – London is set to host the UK’s first-ever Israeli film festival which kicks off on Thursday with a celebration of work celebrating the contribution that Israeli film and television has made and the diversity of its projects.

Seret, the London Israeli Film & Television Festival, is the brainchild of Odelia Haroush, a former manager of the Ahava cosmetics store in London targeted last year by anti-Israel activists; Anat Koren, editor of Alondon, a popular magazine in Hebrew for London’s extensive Israeli community; and Patty Hochmann, a member of the Israeli Film Academy.

Haroush said she hoped the festival would provide a window to Israeli culture and life and show how Israel’s film and television industry is flourishing.

She said she was motivated after experiencing weekly protests by anti- Israel activists at Ahava.

Koren and Hochmann, who were roommates at Tel Aviv University some years ago, got together with Haroush last summer to put the festival together.

“We all realized that there is no Israeli film festival in London, as there are in various places around the world, such as New York, Chicago, Amsterdam and Paris.

“The Israel film and TV industry is flourishing with many Israeli television programs are being bought by US and UK distributors,” Haroush told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “We wanted to show the UK audience the culture and social diversity in everyday life in Israel through the medium of film and television.”

There is no better example than the successful Homeland, a US adaptation of his Israeli television series Hatufim (Prisoners of War) (2009), which has won two Golden Globes and has been screened in more than 40 countries.

The festival will screen 14 Israeli films at various London cinemas showcasing the outstanding contribution of Israeli film and television to the arts. Some of the films’ directors will feature in question and answer sessions.

Episodes from the award-winning sit-com Ramzor (Traffic Light), which was adapted by Fox in the US and bought by Russian television channel RTC, and award-winning drama Pilpilim Tzehubim (Yellow Peppers) will make up the festival’s program.

The films set to be screened include Footnote (directed by Joseph Cedar, 2011) which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, Off White Lies (Maya Kenig, 2011), Invisible (Michal Aviad, 2011), The Fifth Heaven (Dina Tzvi- Riklis, 2011), I Shot My Love (Tomer Heymann, 2010), Sharqiya (Ami Livne, 2012), 2 Night (Roi Werner, 2011) and Lipstikka (Jonathan Segal, 2011).

Friday sees an industry day which provides an opportunity to meet Israeli filmmakers and television program creators.

The aim is to facilitate discussions about collaboration and broaden the communication that already exists between the British and Israeli industries.

“The day will give a opportunity to directors and other talents that we are bringing from Israel to meet and discuss their last and next projects with some important figures from the film and TV industry in the UK,” Haroush said.

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