Pnina Blayer steps down as director of Haifa International Film Festival

Blayer, one of the most influential figures in the Israeli film industry, became the artistic director of the festival in 1988.

(photo credit: GALIT ROZEN)
 Pnina Blayer, the director of the Haifa Cinematheque and the artistic director of the Haifa International Film Festival, is stepping down after more than 43 years of working in the arts in Haifa.
Yaron Shamir was appointed acting director of the festival and the cinematheque. Shamir previously served as the director of the festival. Blayer has been appointed honorary president of the festival by Epos, the municipal foundation that sponsors the festival.
Blayer, one of the most influential figures in the Israeli film industry, became the artistic director of the festival in 1988. Over the years, she has transformed it from a small film festival with just 30 films into the world-renowned event that it is today, with nearly 300 films, varied programs, important pitching events and acclaimed guests, including actors, directors and producers, such as Claude Lanzmann, Peter Greenaway, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Willem Dafoe, Costa-Gavras, Harvey Keitel, Brian Cox, Sophie Marceau, Claude Lelouch, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Joseph Fiennes and Paul Giamatti.
She put her stamp on the festival through events she launched that brought filmmakers from around the Arab world to Israel, as well as a Palestinian Film Day event. She also created programs spotlighting films from Eastern Europe and Italy, as well as midnight movies and Holocaust films. The Haifa International Film Festival has become a magnet for talent from around the world and across Israel. It is one of Israel’s most anticipated and enjoyable festivals.
Blayer said: “Thank you for the wonderful privilege I have been given of a job that is both a hobby and a love and passion. Special thanks to the previous mayor, Yona Yahav, who supported me and the festival faithfully, all the way; to my past and present managers, and especially to the CEO of EPOS, Igal Zeevi, who was an attentive ear and allowed me creative freedom; to the mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, and my dear and loyal staff, without whom this soft seedling could not have grown into the tall and fruit-bearing tree that is the Haifa International Film Festival.
“I hope that I have contributed from my connections and skills experience, to promote the field of cinema in the city of Haifa and to promote the reputation of the city in the world, through the Haifa International Film Festival.”
Blayer, a member of the European Film Academy and the Israel Film Academy, has served as a judge and curator of film programs at international festivals and has won numerous awards, among them Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (Knight of Arts and Literature) awarded by the French government.