In the months Katriel Schory, head of the Israeli Film Fund, spent negotiating with the Jerusalem Cinematheque about possibly taking over as the CEO of the institute, a succession battle ensued at the film fund, with names of several producers mentioned as possible replacements.
But now, after Schory decided not to leave for Jerusalem, he tells Variety he’s staying at the Israeli Film Fund. “There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Schory. “Many in the industry implored me to stay, and I’ve agreed to do so.”
Schory, who has topped the fund since 1999, plans to stay on board at least until 2009.
Rennen Schorr, head of the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem, was approached by the board in 2006 as a possible candidate for the job, but he ultimately turned it down.
Then 2007 turned to be a stellar year for Israeli cinema, both at home and abroad, with Israeli films — most, though not all, financed by the Israeli Film Fund — winning awards at most of this year’s major film festivals: Sundance, Tribeca, Berlin, Cannes, Montreal, Karlovy Vary and Tokyo.
“The main challenge ahead is to solidify and consolidate the current worldwide success of Israeli cinema,” Schory said. “We have to take advantage of the fact that Israeli movies are the trend-du-jour not only in film festivals, but with buyers as well.”
Apart from his daily activities in the reading of scripts and greenlighting productions, Schory is also part of the lobby trying to pushing for supportive government legislation for Israeli movies. “This is probably the most urgent task ahead of us: the Israeli cinema legislation runs out at the end of 2008, and we have to make sure that the bill is not only renewed but also improved,” said Schory.
Furthermore, Schory and fellow producers are trying to get the Israeli finance ministry to approve a string of tax incentives for movie productions that will help bring foreign movies to shoot in Israel but also bring back private investors into local movies.
“For the first time since 1990, when most tax incentives for movies were canceled, I feel there are people in the ministry of finance that can turn this around,” said Schory.
Schory now hopes that 2008 will also be a banner year for Israeli-made movies. He named the fund-financed “Lebanon,” directed by newcomer Samuel Maoz, as a movie that has all the ingredients to garner international attention.
Other movies with international appeal produced by the Israeli Film Fund include Eran Ricklis’ “Lemon Tree,” an Israeli-German-French co-production, and “Restless,” Amos Kolleck’s return to Israeli filmmaking after years working in New York and France.