The Israel Film Festival, the largest showcase of Israeli films in the United States, set a new attendance record during the two-week run in Los Angeles. More than 19,000 people attended.

Meir Fenigstein, the festival founder/executive director, also noted that 2009 marked the first edition when winners of the Israel film school scholarship programme were flown to LA to screen their shorts.

From 33 films, eight filmmakers were selected and each was awarded cash and prizes valued up to $2,500.

The winning films were:
Elephant Graveyard (Hamidrasha Biat, Berl College)
And Thou Shalt Love (Ma’ale)
6.5 Minutes in Tel Aviv (Minshar Art School)
The Repentance Of Raham Im Hanuka (Sam Spiegel Film & TV School Jerusalem)
Meltdown (Saphir Academic College)
The Home Leave (Tel Aviv University - Film and Television Department)
Pinchas (Tel Aviv University - Film and Television Department)
Until We’ll Find a Place (Tel Hai Communication Center for Cinema)

A portion of funds raised from the Opening Night Gala will support film production scholarships for Israeli students.

“The success of the Festival shows how much Israeli cinema is flourishing and attracting a wide and diverse audience of all ages,” Fenigstein said. “We also continue to support up and coming, talented filmmakers, by premiering the work of film school students in Israel who were the first to receive Festival scholarships.”
Honorees and presenters included Robert Lantos, Diane Warren, Mike Medavoy, Lainie Kazan and Jon Voight. The festival showed more than 30 films and had 20 filmmakers and actors attending from Israel.

The festival, in its 24th year, will also visit New York and Miami later in 2009.