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The Israel Film Fund last month approved support for seven full-length feature films, five of them by women directors. This in addition to films by two other women directors that were approved early last year. All seven women directors are working on their first films.

Among the films approved in December are two by actresses who will be directing their first films: "Hayerusha" to be directed by Hiam Abbass ("The Syrian Bride," "Lemon Tree") is about an Israeli-Arab family in a village near the Lebanon border that gets caught up in an inheritance battle in the shadow of the Second Lebanon War; and "Ketumim" directed by Hana Azoulay-Hasfari ("Shehor," "Sheva"), about a grandmother searching for an heir to her unique ability to dream and her daughter, who refuses to be the heir.

Also approved were "Shekarim Baz" directed by Maya Koenig, about a young woman who arrives in Israel for a visit and meets her father after many years; "Ad Sof Hakayitz" directed by Noa Aharoni, about a man who comes back into the life of his daughter and granddaughter after many years of absence; and "Maria Shehora" directed by Zohar Uriya, about a boy who grows up in a family with a violent father.

The films approved in January are "Laila Ve'od Laila" directed by Tamar Yarom, based on Aharon Appelfeld's book, and "Velemaleh et Hahalal" directed by Ramah Burstein, about an ultra-Orthodox woman who falls in love with her widowed brother-in-law.

Two other projects that the fund approved support for last month are "Footnote," a new film by Joseph Cedar ("Beaufort") about a father and son, both respected professors, whose relationship is shaken by the race to become candidates for the Israel Prize, shatters the ivory tower and moves the family to expose low points and suppressed feelings; and "Play-Off" directed by Eran Riklis, about a legendary basketball coach who left Israel in the 1970s at the height of his career and is appointed coach of the German national team, a step that brings him into conflict with his past and with his family.

Riklis' film is based on the life story of Ralph Klein.

The fund notes that the choice of projects for 2009 was based on the usual reading and sorting process, and did not result from any intentional policy or decision to favor films by women. The large number of films by women is surprising, and especially gladdening in light of the small number of women directors: Based on assessments in Israel and the world, only around five percent of films are directed by women.