Israeli officials have met with Woody Allen to try to persuade the legendary director to give Europe a rest and shoot one of his next films in Israel.
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President Shimon Peres proposed such a move when the two men met recently in New York. Several months ago, Mayor Nir Barkat invited Allen to film in Jerusalem, while Tel Aviv officials have suggested a project in the White City.
Two weeks ago, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles launched an Internet campaign to raise funds that would let Allen film in Israel. The initiative was born after Allen told The Wall Street Journal that he filmed his latest movies in Barcelona, London, Paris and Rome after he was offered funding by city officials.
"Well, the Italians call and say, 'We want to pay for it.' It's strictly economics," Allen told the Journal. "It started with 'Match Point.' I wrote that film, and it was originally going to be about a family in New York, in Long Island and Palm Beach. But it was expensive to do in New York. And they called me from London and said, 'Would you like to make a movie here? We'll pay for it.' And so I said, 'Yes.'"
A Jerusalem municipality spokesman told Haaretz that several months ago, while on a fund-raising tour, Barkat met with Allen and Diane Keaton in a Manhattan restaurant. Barkat invited Allen to visit the capital and consider shooting a film there.
"Allen replied that he would seriously consider it," the spokesman said. "Barkat plans to meet with Allen again during his next visit to the U.S."
Tel Aviv made a similar offer, but Allen has not yet responded. "The Tel Aviv municipality is leading a move to position the city in the international arena," Mayor Ron Huldai told Haaretz.
"Obviously, a film taking place in Tel Aviv would be a vehicle to promote the city abroad, and we have constant and close contacts with leading figures in Hollywood, with the government and with Israel's cinema community, hoping that such a move will materialize."
Still, it's not that easy to raise funds that would lure Allen. The Jewish Journal campaign claims that the budget for an Allen film would be around $18 million, and that if contributions reached $9 million, a donor would add a similar amount. So far, the paper has secured a meager $23,000.
Hypothetically, if Allen decided on a coproduction with Israelis, an Israeli film fund could invest $500,000 in the project. The Jerusalem film fund could add a further $400,000. Private investors could help cover the costs, but it seems a multimillion investment from the government and a municipality would be necessary for such an endeavor.
In any case, a spokesman for the director told The Jewish Journal that even though the locations of Allen's next few films are already known, he might eventually film in Israel.
In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this month, Allen said that even though he has criticized Israel in the past, he supports Israel. And since his wife is eager to visit the country, the couple will probably visit in the near future.