Culture Ministry gives NIS 16 million to Israeli film industry

The budget will enable the Israeli filmmaking to continue and will provide jobs for an estimated 10,0000 for film industry professionals.

People at the movies (Illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
People at the movies (Illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Israeli movie industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Culture and Sport Ministry, in cooperation with Mifal Hapayis, announced Tuesday that it would allocate NIS 16 million to Israeli cinema.
The budget will enable Israeli filmmaking to continue and will provide jobs for an estimated 10,000 film industry professionals. It will also enable productions that were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus crisis to resume shooting.
The ministry came under a great deal of criticism from filmmakers early on in the crisis, when it allocated NIS 200m. for culture but excluded the film industry from the equation so that the moviemakers and their employees received nothing.
All filmmakers will welcome any influx of cash. Avi Nesher, one of Israel’s most acclaimed movie directors, is currently shooting a new film, Portrait of Victory, an epic about the War of Independence, and he estimated that adhering to the coronavirus regulations will inflate the film’s budget by at least 25%.
Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper said, “Israeli cinema is a cornerstone of Israeli culture and is an essential part of the Israeli creative branch. It is also a source of Israeli pride around the world. I am happy that even in this complex period we managed to transfer a budget as a unique support to cinema in the days when it suffered a severe blow.... The choice to support the production of the films hurt by the crisis is intended to provide both employment for thousands of Israelis and to enable the continued creation of Israeli cinema.”
Mifal Hapayis CEO Benny Dreyfus said, “During the corona crisis, Mifal Hapayis led a long series of creative projects aimed at making the world of culture accessible to the general public throughout the country under existing restrictions, thus also helping as many artists as possible in this challenging period. Mifal Hapayis is proud to take part in this all-important rescue mission. The world of cinema is collapsing and we are promoting Israeli cinematic work.... We are excited about its launch.”
The Israeli Film Forum said: “We thank the culture minister for his mobilization and commitment. After six months of stagnation, filmmakers will finally be able to return to the labor force and continue to produce Israeli films.”
The Israeli Actors Guild, Shaham, which is part of the Israeli Film Forum, was also enthusiastic about the news and released a statement, saying they “are happy for the industry, which in recent years has become a source of immense pride in Israel and around the world, and for the tens of thousands of workers who will return to work after a six-month shutdown.”
Nesher’s film, currently shooting in 40-degree-plus temperatures in the Negev, is employing a large number of professionals. Produced by Ehud Bleiberg, its stars include Joy Rieger (who appeared in Nesher’s previous two films, Past Life and The Other Story), Meshi Kleinstein (Batel the Virgin), Ala Dakka (the breakout star of the third season of Fauda) and Amir Khoury (Fauda, The Little Drummer Girl). It is set in Cairo (those scenes will be filmed in Israel), an Arab village and an Israeli kibbutz near the Egyptian border.
Earlier this week, 100 truckloads of sand were brought to the location to create sand dunes meant to look like the Egyptian border, giving work to quite a few drivers.
“If you build it, they (the audience?) will come...” Nesher quipped.