Bulgaria, Israel to ink co-pro deal

Treaty to be signed by culture ministers this month

Bulgarian co-productions with Israel will get a boost later this month when the two countries sign an intergovernmental treaty supporting joint movie projects. The co-production treaty — due to be signed by the two nations’ culture ministers, Israel’s Limor Livnat and Bulgaria’s Vezhdi Rashidov, in Jerusalem — will give producers easier mutual access to state funds for joint projects.

Nissim Levy, a Bulgarian-born Israeli producer who has lobbied for the treaty, told Variety that the new deal should help filmmakers from both countries.

Israel is not a member of the European Co-production Convention, unlike Bulgaria, but relies on bilateral treaties, such as those with Germany, France, U.K., Poland, Hungary, Canada and other countries, to create the legal framework for co-operative ventures.

“The key benefit of the treaty is that it will help the national film funds in Israel and Bulgaria work together to fund common projects,” said Levy, who was in Bulgaria’s capital for the Sofia Meetings industry networking event.

Levy, whose family emigrated from Bulgaria to Israel when he was a boy in 1948, is co-producing a film, set in Bulgaria in 1943 when 8,000 Jews living in Sofia were saved from being transported to the Nazi death camps by the intervention of Orthodox Church leaders and Bulgaria’s King Boris.

The film — working title “Concert for the Survivors,” to be directed by Bulgarian director Ivan Nichev — is the story of a poignant love triangle involving two young men, one Jewish, the other a gentile, and a beautiful Jewish girl.

Levy plans to shoot the ghetto scenes on a specially built set at Sofia’s Nu Boyana studios. The pic, not yet claimed by a sales agent, is out to worldwide distribs.

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