The Israeli film festival Cinema South and the Rome International Film Festival (RIFFGA) based in Georgia, USA recently launched a new unique partnership brokered by the Foreign Ministry of Israel.
The 21st edition of Cinema South took place in Sderot in November. The Foreign Ministry assisted in hosting more than 20 film industry professionals from around the world including the creator of the popular and successful Australian TV show “Sorry for Asking”, a delegation from Morocco - including directors, film critics and school heads - and a delegation from Atlanta.
The festival was established by the Sapir's School of Audio and Visual Arts in collaboration with the Sderot Cinematheque in 2001. Since then, the initiative has grown from a small event that screened student films to a weeklong international film festival, becoming the leading cultural event in western Negev, Israel's southern periphery in close proximity to the Gaza border.
Annually, some 20,000 people participate in movie screenings, music performances and events on Sapir's campus, at the Sderot Cinematheque and in local communities.
Known for its focus on independent, edgy and creative films, Cinema South screens Israeli and international movies that feature people and places on the margins.
The Rome International Film Festival (RIFFGA) has been a staple of Rome, Georgia for the last 19 years. Last year, Israel’s Consul General to Atlanta, Anat Sultan-Dadon sponsored the participation of an Israeli short film.
The connection with the delegation from Atlanta was made by Since then, the Consulate has been working with the festival and its directors, including South by Southwest Festival Co-Founder and film producer Louis Black to develop a direct link between the festival and the Israeli film industry.
After a year of negotiations, the creative and executive leadership of the RIFFGA returned from Israel with a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cinema South Festival, the first of this kind between an Israeli and an American institution. The partnership is set to include shared programming and cross-promotion of films, as well as academic partnerships between the higher education institutions that are involved with each festival, Georgia Highlands College and Sapir College.
“This year, we are excited to launch a new partnership with the Rome International Film Festival in Georgia,” wrote Tamir Hod, Director of Cinema South Film Festival, ahead of the initiative. “This partnership currently includes a corresponding graduate films slot, an exchange of master-class sessions, and most importantly an invitation for a festival delegation from each establishment, to visit one another in our respective events.”