Jerusalem Film Festival

Jerusalem Film Festival
Photo: jff.org.il
The Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) is an international film festival held in the capital of Israel every summer. The festival was founded in 1984 by Lia van Leer, the founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Haifa Cinematheque, and the Israeli Film Archive.

Lia van Leer was a pioneer in the field of film archiving and art film programming in Israel. After serving as a judge at the Cannes Film Festival, she decided to organize a similar film event in Israel. The inaugural Jerusalem Film Festival opened on May 17, 1984 with Ettore Scola’s Le bal (Ballando ballando). The festival screened 100 films over three weeks. Distinguished international guests at the first JFF included French actress and filmmaker Jeanne Moreau, American actress Lillian Gish, American actor and filmmaker Warren Beatty, and English director John Schlesinger.

Since its inception, the character of the Jerusalem Film Festival has matured into its present form. The festival lasts for 10 days and screens between 150 and 200 films in a number of programs. They include Israeli Cinema, Debuts, Spirit of Freedom, Jewish Experience, Masters, Intersections, Panorama, Into the Night, JFF Series, Classics, Cinemania, International Shorts, and Special Screenings. Films made in Israel have always had a special place in the festival program, but the festival screens many international titles, too.

JFF hosts four film competitions: Feature Competition, Documentary Competition, Short Competition, and International Competition. The festival presents several awards to the best films and outstanding industry professionals. They include the Haggiag Family Award for Israeli Cinema, the Van Leer Group Foundation Award, the Pirchi Family Award, the Audience Favorite Award, the Wilf Family Foundation Award for Best International Film, In the Spirit of Freedom Award, the Jewish Experience Award, and more. Most awards exist courtesy of philanthropists who have supported the festival for over three decades.

As we’ve already mentioned, the festival’s focus on Israeli cinema doesn’t prevent it from screening international films. Renowned filmmakers who’ve showcased their work at JFF include Wong Kar-wai, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, and others. Alongside competition and out-of-competition screenings in indoor venues, the program of the festival features open-air screenings in the parks and squares of Jerusalem, meetings with filmmakers, Industry Days, forums, tributes, the Jerusalem Film Workshop, the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab, the Youth Film Competition, and other events and activities.

Jerusalem Film Festival

Photo: timesofisrael.com



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