'Israelywood' touted to attract foreign filmmakers

Gov't goes to Cannes with slick pamphlets, offers of tax breaks.

movie making (photo credit: )
movie making
(photo credit: )
Israel will offer foreign film producers tax breaks of 20 percent if they collaborate with Israeli production companies, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry announced Sunday, a day ahead of the opening of the Cannes Film Festival. TV and movies are big business, with multi-million dollar productions providing employment for thousands. Israel wants a piece of that action, and the announcement brings it in line with a number of countries that woo foreign film makers with financial incentives. A meeting of producers at Cannes will focus on Israel as a location for making movies and TV shows, the ministry said. In addition, a booth at the festival will distribute pamphlets listing the advantages of filming here. "Producing films in Israel is economically very significant, and it advances tourism, improves Israel's image in the world and strengthens the local film and production industries," said Rachel Roei, head of the ministry's department for promoting investment. Her staff came up with the idea, she said. The move garnered praise from Israelis in the film business, including Gal Uchovsky, a producer, scriptwriter and business partner of director Eytan Fox (Walk on Water, The Bubble). "Countries [that] have offered such incentives drew a lot of producers," Uchovsky told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "Morocco and Ireland, for example, have made a lot of effort to draw in foreign filmmakers and it has paid off. "This is a very good financial decision. It will provide an income for much of the local industry and will raise the local industry's standards." According to the pamphlet to be distributed at Cannes, Israel has several selling points: a vast pool of actors and extras of varying ethnicities representing more than 100 countries, many different types of locations within easy driving distance, and 120 production companies, 10 production studios and 30 post-production facilities. Professional English-speaking teams with advanced equipment, as well as a comfortable climate and a comprehensive banking system that is well organized and easy to use round out the list.