A stringof international film festivals are set to play in Israel over the next fewmonths, triggering calls for a re-evaluation of the country's festival scene.
Threeinternational film festivals, all of them competitive, are scheduled in Israelduring April, with a fourth announced for late May. That's before Israel's veteranJerusalem International Film Festival takes place in early July.
Threemore festivals are also confirmed for the autumn season.
Thelaunch of the new festivals is partly explained by the Israeli Film Council'sdecision to support any such event that manages to survive beyond its thirdyear.
Local producer Marek Rozenbaum said the number ofnew festivals mirrors the deluge of similar events all over the world."Every day I get three or four requests to send my films to one or anotherfestival" he said. "But the truth is that the small, local eventscoming up like mushrooms after the rain, are not really very helpful orproductive as far as we are concerned. Some kind of international organisationis needed to re-evaluate the whole scene."
Chronologically,the first in line is in Eilat (April 6-9), Israel's southernmost exit to theRed Sea. A four day affair at the end of the busy tourist season, it is now inits third year with seed money for its organisation provided by the city andits hotels.
The festivalprogramme includes 44 features with an international competition and a juryheaded by European Film Promotion head Claudia Landsberger. There is also anational competition and an award for the best children film. The festivaloperates on a budget of $220,000.
DocAviv,Tel Aviv's well-established documentary film festival, starts one day afterEilat from April 7-16. Already in its seventh year and gaining in status, thefestival's budget is approximately $350,000.
Ashod'sFirst International Film Festival (April 24-28) is the child of a last minutebrainstorm by producer Doron Eran. A port town some 30 miles south of Tel Aviv,Ashdod is evidently trying to spruce up its image with the new festival. FormerEmmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel has confirmed her presence for a masterclass in animation. Ashdod's budget claims to be about $350,000, with theAshdod Foundation and local hotels as its main backers.
Furtherdown south, Shderoth will host its fourth South Film Festival at the end ofMay. The festival won national attention last year when it was chosen as launchpad for Turn Left at the End of the World, the country's biggest hit inthe last ten years, and also hosted Richard Gere, who was on a brief tour ofthe country.
Thebudget ($200,000) comes mainly from the local Sapir college, the Ashdodcinematheque, the Cinema Council and commercial sponsorship.
Later inthe year, Israel will also host the Jerusalem Film Festival (July 7-16),followed in early September by the second Rehovoth International Creative WomenFilm Festival (Sept 7-10), a new Tel Aviv Children Film Festival (September28-Oct 1) and then the other veteran, the Haifa Film Festival (Oct 18-25).