ISRAEL'S GRAND dame of cinema Lia van Leer received the Teddy Kollek award from President Shimon Peres at the opening last week of the Jerusalem Film Festival. Van Leer, who with her late husband Wim (who used to write brilliant pieces on a regular basis for The Jerusalem Post), founded the Israeli Cinematheques, but is particularly associated with the Jerusalem Cinematheque. The Jerusalem Film Festival has been the recipient of many prizes and awards in Israel and abroad, but for van Leer, the honor which she received from her staff in the brochure listing the films in this year's festival may be the best. Rather than giving the octogenarian Van Leer a Lifetime achievement award, they gave her a Lovetime award which expressed not only their love for her but the love she has for cinema which she has imparted to all those around her.
WHILE ON the subject of film festivals, Gila Almagor, who wrote and starred in The Summer of Avia, was invited to attend the Taipei Film Festival in which the Israeli film was featured. After the screening, the audience was invited to meet 'the first lady of the Israeli cinema'.
The film and its star were not the only representatives of Israel at the festival. Toasts at the reception were made with Israeli Barkan wine supplied by Barkan's Taipei representative Peter Chai.
DESPITE THE fact that he left the secular world some 30 years ago to take up a haredi lifestyle, Uri Zohar, who was once one of the more outrageous figures in Israel's entertainment industry, has remained a celebrity with frequent re-screenings of his old movies. He never quite buried his talents, often using them at election time for the benefit of Shas. He has also appeared from time to time as a guest on television shows, and last year made a television documentary with one of his sons about changing one lifestyle for another. Although he has distanced himself from his past, he has not cut off ties with all of his old friends and associates, most notably singer Arik Einstein with whom he shares 18 grandchildren. The two became first-time great grandparents earlier this month. Two of Zohar's sons are married to two of Einstein's daughters.
ALSO DELIGHTED by a new baby in the family is Channel 10 news anchor Yaacov Eilon, whose wife Hedi Gur presented him with their second child, a boy they've named Dan. Their first baby was a girl.
Thanks to the alertness and efficiency of a security agency, television and print media personality Yair Lapid did not lose his expensive BMW last week. Thieves broke into his house while the family was sleeping and stole the keys to the car. Lapid's house is technology wired, and the break-in immediately alerted the security agency. The agency called the police and members of both forces gave chase to the thieves, trapping the perpetrators somewhere in north Tel Aviv. Realizing that there was no way in which they could carry out their plan, the thieves abandoned the car and ran off.
THINGS ARE looking up for Michal Yanai, who after a failed marriage and an unsuccessful bid for career advancement in Hollywood, has found herself a new significant other, has almost completed her first stint as movie producer and is taking over from Efrat Boimwald in the stage production of the comedy The Mother-in-law. She will play opposite Nati Ravitz, who is replacing Adir Miller.
YEDIOT AHARONOT reports that Assi Dayan, the enfant terrible of the Israeli film and television industry, recently showed up as a member of the audience at the Cameri Theater 20 minutes after the curtain had gone up. Unhappy with the seats that had been allocated to him and his companion, Dayan chose to sit on the stairs. Apparently the show didn't appeal to him because he fell asleep before checking whether his cell phone was turned off. The persistent ring of the phone coupled with Dayan's snoring was just too much for one member of the audience who woke him up and demanded that he leave the auditorium. Dayan complied.
IT MUST be a little difficult for former beauty queen, actress and model Gal Gadot to juggle her commitments: movies and television in Hollywood, modeling assignments for Castro in Israel and her wedding on September 28, which will also be in Israel. Some 500 guests have been invited to witness her change of status to that of Mrs. Liran Versano.
ISRAELI-ARGENTINEAN television producer and distributor Yair Dori, who is largely responsible for the popularity of the Argentinean soap opera genre in Israel, is the winner of this year's Golden Martin Fierro Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in Argentina's entertainment industry. Dori told Argentina's Jewish News Agency that the soap operas he produced helped to create a cultural bridge between Argentina and Israel in that they also addressed Jewish issues.
"My Jewish spirit is present in everything I do," he said. "It is present in my success and in my work because it is part of my identity. I take it everywhere with me in love honor and respect." Dori, a former POW who fought in the Six Day War, also told AJN that his productions had generated a lot of Israeli interest in Argentina, and as a result there had been a marked increase in tourism from Israel to Argentina.
IN OTHER news from Argentina, iconic singer Mercedes Sosa, whose love for her country was expressed not only in folk songs but in political activism, is scheduled to come to Israel in October. Sosa, who was known as "the voice of the voiceless" during the most troubling period in Argentina's history, celebrated her 73rd birthday last week. Neither age nor her "big mama" physique has slowed her down. She continues to electrify audiences around the world and to produce new albums.