Leading Israeli directors including Dina Zvi-Riklis, Nina Menkes, Alon Gur Arye and Nir Bergman are among the film-makers presenting feature projects at Jerusalem Pitch Point.
The three-day Jerusalem Pitch Point meeting, aimed at matching international partners to Israeli films, is a key date on the calendar for the local film industry.
“Events like this are crucial for the local industry,” says Katriel Schory, executive director of Israel Film Fund, which co-organises Pitch Point with Jerusalem Film Festival. “Roughly 30% of all finance in Israeli productions comes through co-production. Since 2001, there have been 50 co-productions with France and another 33 with Germany and nine with Poland.”
Some 11 projects will be presented to an international jury of experts. A further 10-15 professionals from Europe and the US are expected to attend the meeting, which is also open to the general public.
Past participants suggest Pitch Point is an invaluable experience, even when it does not result directly in an international partner.
Shira Geffen, who presented Self Made in 2012, says it helped clarify her ideas. “Writing a script is a lonely process,” she says. “Pitch Point was the first time I’d communicated my idea to a lot of people and it helped me understand what the film was about.”
The black comedy, about two Israeli and Palestinian women, made its international debut at Cannes Critics’ Week in May and is now being showcased in Jerusalem Film Festival’s Israeli feature competition. Also in competition is Efrat Corem’s family drama Ben Zaken, which was presented at last year’s Pitch Point and won the Van Leer Award.
Pitch Point has an illustrious track record. Previous participants include Talya Lavie’s black comedy Zero Motivation, about a group of bored female soldiers, which went on to win the best narrative feature at Tribeca Film Festival this year; Nadav Lapid’s Policeman, which took the special jury prize at Locarno in 2011 before touring the festival circuit; Rama Burshtein’s Orthodox Jewish family tragedy Fill The Void, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for the US after showing at Venice and Toronto in 2012, and Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon, about a lone Israeli platoon operating over the border during the 1982 Lebanon War, which won Venice’s Golden Lion in 2009.
“Lebanon was a particularly moving, emotional pitch,” recalls Schory. “It was Samuel’s first film but his passion was evident. Afterwards Michel Reilhac, who was head of ARTE Cinema at the time, jumped up and said, ‘I’m in.’”
Pitch point 2014: the highlights
The 11 projects being presented this year include Eitan Gafny’s [pictured] Children Of The Fall, his second feature following zombie thriller Cannon Fodder (aka Battle Of The Undead), and Alon Gur Arye’s The Naked Gun-style comedy Mossad.
Celebrated avant-garde director Nina Menkes will present her next production Minotaur, a retelling of the ancient Greek myth set in the labyrinths of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Established film-maker Dina Zvi-Riklis is bringing Poppies In October inspired by the life of the tragic poet Tirza Atar, the daughter of famous Israeli writer and poet Nathan Alterman. Zvi-Riklis’s husband, Eran Riklis, is producing alongside Yifat Prestelnik.
Nir Bergman is presenting Saving Neta, which was selected for the Berlinale Co-production Market earlier this year. Nony Geffen is unveiling Why Elephant, his second feature project after Not In Tel Aviv, which won the special jury prize in Locarno in 2012.
For the first time this year, Pitch Point is also organising closed work-in-progress screenings for five films. They include Elad Keidan’s Of Our Economic Situation about a chance meeting between a teacher and a former pupil on the 1,000 Stairs connecting the upper and lower parts of the port city of Haifa. It was showcased at the Cannes Atelier in 2011. Keidan’s Anthem won Cannes’ Cinefondation prize in 2008.