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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.

Insider info

Israel does not have an official film commission. The best first point of contact is Katriel Schory, executive director at the Israel Film Fund: and