The Top Ten

The Most Influential People in Israeli Cinema

1. Moshe and Leon Edery, 62 and 65 respectively, film producers and movie theater chain wonders

2. Katriel Schory, 66, director of the Israel Film Fund

Katriel Schory is one of the most prominent figures in the local film establishment. He was an active partner in the battle for the Cinema Law that was passed in 2001 and promised orderly public funding for Israeli cinema, and since 1999 has headed the Israel Film Fund. In that capacity he helped choose the films supported by the fund, accompanied their production and marketing in Israel and abroad, and participated in the great breakthrough of Israeli cinema. His widespread international connections made him the best known establishment representative of Israeli film worldwide and helped promote foreign investment in Israeli films.

3. Nachman Ingber, 74, critic and artistic director of the Yehoshua Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts

Nachman Ingber is the artistic director of the Cinema Project at the Yehoshua Rabinovich Foundation and a respected lecturer and veteran film critic. In addition to the generations of students he has taught over the years, his position at the foundation makes him a decisive factor in choosing the feature films to be produced in Israel and to accompany the projects in which the foundation invests throughout the various stages of production leaving his mark on many of the films that reach the movie theaters. 

4. Renen Schorr, 61, film director; founder and director of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School

Along with two feature films he directed "Late Summer Blues" (1987) and "The Loners" (2009) Renen Schorr has been prominent over the years in his public and entrepreneurial activity on the local cinema scene. Among other things, he managed to turn Jerusalem into a significant film center. In 1989 he established the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem, which he heads to this day. In 2008 Schorr started the Jerusalem International Film Lab, which not only brings millions of shekels annually to the local industry, but also attracts many filmmakers to shoot their films in the city.

5. David Alexander, 67, chairman of the Israeli Film Council

Since he became chairman of the Israeli Film Council two years ago, Alexander has tried to breathe life into the moribund organization, which is supposed to formulate policy and criteria for an equal and practical distribution of the film budget. He promoted a necessary step to update criteria for distributing the budget that had been in force since 2001, but did so without sufficient coordination with the artists' organizations and the heads of the film industry. Thus the unpleasant atmosphere in the industry was exacerbated. But despite the criticism, he succeeded in completing most of the changes he had introduced, and increased the sum given to niche films, canceled support for small festivals, and more.

6. Pnina Blayer, 66, Artistic director of the Haifa International Film Festival

In contrast to the waning status of the Jerusalem International Film Festival, its Haifa competitor is flourishing, largely thanks to Pnina Blayer, artistic director for the past 25 years. In addition to bringing an attractive selection of films from all over the world, she was the first to permit the participation of digital films in the Israeli competition at the festival, and in doing so paved the way for the discovery of talented artists like Danny Lerner and David Wollach. An increasing number of Israeli filmmakers are choosing to have their films debut in Haifa, including Ari Folman, whose film "The Congress" will open the upcoming festival. Unfortunately, Blayer is the only woman on the list of the most influential people in cinema, reflecting the small number of women in key positions in the industry.

7. Ari Folman, 50, film director, screenwriter and film score composer

In contrast to films by Amos Gitai, which have been shown over the years at the most prestigious festivals worldwide, establishing the model of an Israeli film director who enjoys international success even if his films were not successful locally, Ari Folman's film "Waltz With Bashir," which debuted at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2008, not only won international recognition for its creator, but was successful in Israel as well. The film, nominated for an Oscar, won the Golden Globe award for the best foreign film. It presented a daring combination of animation and documentary, examining the director's foggy impressions from the first Lebanon War. The film brought Folman a series of awards and an international status that enabled him to make his next film, "The Congress," which is also in an innovative format that combines film with animation and stars an impressive team of Hollywood actors. 

8. Joseph Cedar, 45, director and screenwriter

Joseph Cedar is a good representative of the international flourishing of Israeli film in the past decade. Within only five years, two of his films received international respect and were nominated for the Academy Award for the best foreign language film: "Beaufort" in 2008 and "Footnote" in 2012. "Beaufort" earned Cedar the prize for outstanding director at the Berlin International Film Festival and "Footnote" won the award for outstanding screenplay at the Cannes Festival. Thus he has been able to obtain international funding for his films with relative ease funding that is almost essential given the economic situation of the industry. 

9. Assaf Amir, 58, producer

One of the outstanding producers in Israeli film, Amir is responsible for "Broken Wings," "What a Wonderful Place," "Intimate Grammar," and the documentary "The Cemetery Club," among others. Two of his films, "Hayuta and Berel" and "Lemalei Et Hehalal" were screened last year at the Venice Film Festival. Assaf Amir has served in recent years as the chairman of the Producers' Association; he was among the leaders of the determined battles of the artists' associations against the various broadcasting groups with the aim of increasing the film budget; and the fight against the Israeli Film Council regarding the change in criteria for support.

10.Yehuda (Judd) Ne'eman, 77, director and researcher

Yehuda "Judd" Ne'eman is a film researcher and a professor in the Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. He has also directed several films of importance in the history of Israeli film, including "The Dress" (1970), "Paratroopers" (1977) and "Fellow Travelers" (1984). Ne'eman was one of the first to create an academic infrastructure for the study of local cinema, and his vigorous activity to promote the teaching of the subject at the university level shaped film studies in Israel and influenced an entire generation of his successors. 

Moti Kimchi
Avishag Shaar-Yashuv