The Israeli film industry is mourning the sudden death of David Shapira (68), one of the most prominent independent film distributors in the country.

A popular figure in the local film business, he founded Shapira Films with his wife Dalia, in 1968. He was a pioneer in arthouse film exhibition, which he championed throughout his career, and though he specialised for many years in European cinema, his American repertoire was expanding in recent years.

A member of the board and the treasurer of the Israeli Cinema Industry Association, he was also on the board of the Israeli Film Academy and the Sam Spiegel School for Cinema and Television in Jerusalem.

Recent Shapira releases included In The Mood For Love, Lantana, Gangs Of New York and The Man Without A Past. Renowned for his total commitment to and for his careful treatment of each title he released, he was a leader in all the various struggles for survival of independent distribution in Israel and a familiar, active and very much involved figure at international film festivals and markets.