Grapevine: Filmmaking freedom

Jerusalem Cinematheque (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/GILABRAND)
Jerusalem Cinematheque
 ■ EVERY FRIDAY afternoon, listeners to the two-hour program hosted from 4 p.m. on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet by Yaron Enosh hear a delightful anecdote about various species of our four-legged friends as told by Shai Doron, who for the past 25 years has been the managing director of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, and who relates to the animals almost as though they were human.
But after quarter of a century of playing in an enlarged version of Noah’s Ark, Doron is moving on and is succeeding Johanna Arbib as president of the Jerusalem Foundation. Arbib, who had previously been a very capable and much lauded leader of United Israel Appeal, stepped down from the presidency of the Jerusalem Foundation, partially because it seemed she was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s choice to head the Jewish Agency. There was also the temptation to make history by becoming the first woman to get the top job in the agency. In the final analysis, that didn’t work out, though doubtless Arbib’s name will soon pop up at the top of some organization’s masthead.
Now that he’s entering a cage for two-legged animals, Doron may disappear from the airwaves, or he may tell stories about people with whom he comes into contact. But that may be problematic because, unlike the animals, which probably don’t listen to the radio, people do, and when things are said about them that they consider to be unflattering, some are inclined to sue, though it must be said that all of Doron’s tales about four-legged creatures have been very positive.
The nature of Doron’s trips abroad will change dramatically. Whereas up until now he has traveled abroad to inspect possible acquisitions for the zoo, his future trips abroad will be to raise funds for projects in Jerusalem that are being overseen by the Jerusalem Foundation.
■ AT A festive ceremony in a packed auditorium at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Monday evening, President Reuven Rivlin was conferred with the title of Honorary Fellow of the Sam Spiegel School for Film and Television. 
Rivlin said that he was proud of his role, while serving as an MK, in helping to formulate the 1991 Film Law, which, he said, had proved itself again and again. In an era in which big-budget feature films were making an impact, it was difficult for Israeli filmmakers to get a toehold, he explained. 
Public and state support, and the determination of MKs from both the coalition and the opposition to ensure that funds would be available to filmmakers free of political influence and pressure, have enabled the production of countless top-quality Israeli movies, he said. In what he called an example of true democracy, filmmakers have been given full freedom of expression, and their films have been vehicles for social pluralism, spirituality and reality. Rivlin reeled off the names of several Israeli films that have been prizewinners and/or box office attractions, and said that the law enacted in 1991 had caused an admirable revolution in Israel’s film industry.
■ MORE THAN 100 high-school graduates with emotional problems and learning difficulties last week participated in the awards ceremony that each year crowns the Colel Chabad scholarship program in Jerusalem. The scholarships, which were awarded in the presence of Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar, are made available through a cooperative venture between Colel Chabad, the Barad family of New York and the Meromim Foundation. Particular attention is given to youngsters from the Commonwealth of Independent States and to those who have only one parent.
Itzik Marton, an administrator of the Chesed Menachem Mendel Scholarship Program, said that it was an exciting and emotional experience to see young people with difficult backgrounds graduate from 12th grade and receive awards for academic excellence.
The academic scholarships are allocated in relation to the student’s successful progress throughout the year, and are awarded on more than just test results. Students are mentored by an educational committee headed by Rabbi Dr. Amram Blau and a dedicated team of project coordinators. In addition, there are enrichment programs throughout the year designed to specifically help students who are struggling with their studies. Through these programs and with other help they receive, they develop learning skills and actually reach levels of excellence.
This is particularly gratifying to Colel Chabad director Rabbi Sholom Duchman, who said: “When you have a student who at age nine was suffering from learning disabilities, but put in the effort, graduated with honors and was accepted into the Engineering Corps of the army, it continues to inspire us all.”