Universal cinema workshop in the Holy City

Cinema is a collaborative art form, and collaboration serves as the backbone of the Jerusalem Film Workshop.

July 31, 2019 11:05
3 minute read.
PARTICIPANTS IN the 2019 Jerusalem Film Workshop gather material in Ein Kerem for documentaries

PARTICIPANTS IN the 2019 Jerusalem Film Workshop gather material in Ein Kerem for documentaries. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Two elements at the heart of cinema are collaboration and universality. That is why Jerusalem was the perfect location when Gal Greenspan and Roi Kurland, founders and CEOs of Green Productions, set out to create a unique film workshop where young filmmakers of all nationalities and backgrounds, from all around the world, could come to Israel to learn and develop their skills and passions for filmmaking. The Jerusalem Film Workshop is now in its sixth year and continues to thrive.

After a rigorous selection process, 24 of the brightest young filmmakers in the world, from nine countries on six continents, were chosen to participate in this once in a lifetime experience in the capital city. Prior to their arrival, the participants were divided into six groups, each consisting of a director, producer, cinematographer and editor. Each group was provided the subject that they were to explore in a short documentary over the program’s five week period. This year, each of the documentaries’ subjects are residents of Ein Kerem.

“Creating emotional bonds between the participants and the films’ subjects, diverse Jerusalemites, is one of this project’s main goals,” said festival director Elad Laor. While narrative films could be shot anywhere in the world, the workshop focuses on documentary as it provides a personal and authentic look at the specific location in which it is produced. Rather than just seeing Jerusalem, the workshop lets them become a part of Jerusalem through their art. “[Documentary] is about exploring with an empathetic eye and the participants get to experience Jerusalem this way,” says JFW's program director Mariana Krylov.

When the participants arrived in Israel, many for the first time, the challenge began. The participants were taught in both practical and theoretical filmmaking workshops, guided by a team of award-winning professional mentors who are prominent in the Israeli film industry during the pre-production and development phase of their films. In the second week, the participants went to Ein Kerem for several days of shooting with professional equipment provided by the program.

The next stage was an intense two weeks of post-production and editing, during which each group was given feedback by the mentors and staff. Once editing was complete, the films were taken to a group of professionals who worked with the participants to perfect the color and sound design of each film.

The workshop is an intense and highly enjoyable experience. The participants explore Jerusalem from a cinematic perspective, travel through Israel on weekly excursions, and create lifelong bonds and friendships, all connected by their deep love and passion for film. “These are people that I’m going to connect with for the rest of my life... the people that are in this group are the future of the industry,” said Alicia Cherem, one of the current participants from Mexico, and the director of photography of one of the films. “We’re all here to make a film. That’s a universal idea... you learn really, really quickly what it takes to make a good documentary.”

Cinema is a collaborative art form, and collaboration serves as the backbone of the Jerusalem Film Workshop. “We aim for the participants to come back to their distant homes and communities, share their films and, through the art of cinema, express their personal experiences and points of view,” says Krylov.

The six short documentaries of the Jerusalem Film Workshop are being assembled together into a feature documentary titled On the Hill, which is set to premiere at the Jerusalem Film Festival on Wednesday, July 31, followed by a free public screening of the six individual films. Q&A sessions with the filmmakers will take place at the Café Nocturno on Thursday, August 1.

The workshop is produced by Green Productions, in collaboration with Onward Israel, The New Fund for Cinema and Television, and The Jerusalem Film Fund.

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