The Israel Film Council has approved a budget for three new regional film funds, under policy changes made by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev.
Two of the funds will operate in northern Israel and the West Bank, at a cost of more than 8 million shekels ($2.3 million) a year. Sunday’s vote did not allocate any funds for the southern region of the country. Film council members said none of the applicants from that area had met the minimum conditions required.
The establishment of a film fund for the West Bank was met with criticism last week. Some denounced the idea as racist because it would only serve the Jewish residents in the West Bank. Only Israeli citizens are able to submit requests for support, and the Gesher Fund, which operates the fund alongside the Samaria Community Center, sought requests only from a list of Jewish communities.
Artists complained to the Gesher Fund following a report in Haaretz about the controversy, and on the very same day the fund removed the list of eligible communities from its website as well as the stiuplation that only residents of those communities could submit funding requests.
The funds approved for northern Israel on Sunday include one that will be run by the Nof Hagalil cultural center through the Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts. The other will be operated by the Galilee Film Fund. The fund in the West Bank will be operated by the Shomron Community Center and the Gesher Fund.
Regev said: “I made a promise and I am keeping my promise! We are making history today. The Culture and Sports Ministry will support the regional production of films in the north, and for the first time in Judea and Samaria too, and in the hope that in the near future also in the south. What began as the establishment of the committee to examine the work of the film funds is now continuing in the implementation of the comprehensive reform, that I led in the cinema field. The reform provides an equal opportunity to those voices in the north and Judea and Samaria,” said Regev.
“The wheels of cultural justice, which bring to expression the range of voices in Israeli society, have worked quickly and now another stage in correcting the cultural map in Israel has been completed,” added Regev. “The artists from the periphery, the north and from Judea and Samaria, will become more and more in the center of things, not just on stage but also on the screens. Soon we will allow them to express their ability and talent. To my great regret, the bodies that submitted from the south did not meet the minimal criteria. I am full of hope that next year the bodies in the south will meet the minimal conditions and will be able to enjoy government support.”