Ancient deserts and modern metropolises provide a background to stories set in this world and in others.
Israel has a thriving local film industry, as evidenced by the four Israeli productions screening at Cannes. But security fears have kept high-budget footloose films away — for example, World War Z shot its modern-day Israel-set scenes in Malta.
Now, however, international producers are waking up to Israel’s potential. The country’s tourism, finance and economy ministries and Jerusalem Municipality have jointly launched a $6.3m fund to encourage international feature and TV projects to film in Jerusalem. To qualify, productions have to spend $7.1m in Israel and at least $1.4m in Jerusalem. The grant is capped at 25% of the Israeli production costs. The first productions to benefit from the initiative include Israel-born Natalie Portman’s adaptation of Amos Oz’s memoir A Tale Of Love And Darkness, and NBC’s archaeological detective series Dig, a Keshet production for NBC’s USA Network.
Portman’s directorial debut, which received about $450,000, shot in the central West Jerusalem neighbourhood of Nachlaot. In a separate initiative last year, the tourism ministry invested $80,000 in the Chinese production The Old Cinderella.