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Trio of Israeli films win Pitch Point coin

Jerusalem fest hosted co-production contest

JERUSALEM — Three Israeli film projects were awarded cash to move into production on Monday thanks to the 7th Pitch Point, an international co-production contest at the 29th Jerusalem Film Festival.

Eleven teams got seven minutes each to tubthump their projects before a panel of seven producers and cinephiles, who then met with each team before picking the winners.

To be eligible for Pitch Point, films must have secured one-third of their funding and be ready for screening within three years. Last year, about one-third of the money backing Israeli features came from outside the country.

Serving on the panel were Andre de Margerie, director of international relations for ARTE France; Daniel Leconte, director and founder of Gaul’s Film en Stock; Brit producer Janine Marmot, founder of Hot Property Films; U.S. producer Dan A. Jarvey, founding member of Court 13; Petri Kempinnen, head of production at the Finnish Film Foundation; Tony Wosk, who left the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. after 12 years to found Middle Child Films; and Paul Stephens, co-founder of Canuck shingle The Film Works.

The panelists admitted that choosing only three winners was no easy task.

“Some of the strongest films I’ve seen in the past few years have come out of Israel,” said Marmot.

“A Screw,” from “Jellyfish” helmer Shira Geffen won the French Film Foundation (CNC) award of $8,575. The film traces the lives of an Israeli woman, Efrat, and a Palestinian, Nadine, who switch places when they are confused for one another at a West Bank checkpoint.

The $7,350 prize from Franco-German TV network ARTE was awarded to “Nowhere Man,” from first-time helmer Benjamin Freidenberg, about an Israeli everyman who finds intimacy in a phone-sex hotline.

A new award of about $10,000 from the Van Leer Foundation, headed by Jerusalem Cinematheque founder and former fest director Lia Van Leer, was given to “Away From His Absence,” an exploration of father-daughter incest from “Jaffa” and “Or” director Keren Yedaya.

Jurors also gave a special nod to writer-turned-director Lee Gilat, who brought “Encirclements” to Pitch Point, for, they wrote, “dealing with the complex and rich distinction of an Israeli family.”

A joint initiative of the Israel Film Fund and the Jerusalem Film Festival, Pitch Point is carried out in co-operation with the Joshua Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts in Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund.

Past Pitch Point winners include Itai Tamir’s “The Policeman,” Samuel Maoz’s “Lebanon,” and Assi Dayan’s “Dr. Pomerantz.”

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