New CEO Takes Reins of Jerusalem Film Festival

The Jerusalem Film Festival, long the gold standard of Israeli sprocket operas, has had more than a few bumps over the years since founder Lia Van Leer decided to step down in 2008.

One of the few places to catch the best pics from Cannes, Berlin and Venice, the Jerusalem fest — which unspools July 10-20 — has seen, in the past six years, two artistic directors come and go, labor issues, bad blood among festival donors and funding cuts. Rather than being stymied by cultural boycotts or other political headaches endemic to the region, the festival has appeared to be unraveling from within.

So for Noa Regev, tapped CEO of the fest in December at age 32, stakes are high. “There are a lot of expectations around me, but I’m focused on results, and on doing my work,” she says.

She has already secured one major triumph: the world premiere of Eran Riklis’ “Dancing Arabs,” which will bow opening night to an audience including German thesp Martina Gedeck, Korean helmer Park Chan-wook and Austrian director Ulrich Seidl.

“Dancing Arabs,” written by Israeli Arab satirist Sayed Kashua, was shot in Jerusalem, making it an ideal choice for the festival’s opening night.

The film will head to other fests later this year, says Riklis, but it seemed natural to first bow at home. “Choosing an opening-night film is always difficult,” he says, “but I have always been an advocate for the local industry — it deserves to open the Jerusalem Film Fest, because it’s part of our DNA.”

Regev, who also serves as director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and its historic film archive, comes armed with a Ph.D. in film, and successful stints helming the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival and the Holon Cinematheque, both of which grew in stature under her supervision.

Regev has no desire to reinvent the Jerusalem fest, an institution she says she has revered since she was a 15-year-old usher at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Rather, she hopes to inject a renewed appreciation of Israeli directors and youth-skewing fare, while maintaining the festival’s mix of prestige pics.

Festgoers also will be treated to 200 films from both Israel and abroad, as well as a film lab, a pitch session and a kid-film competition judged by local youth.

The CEO is reaching out to younger audiences with a viral ad campaign, midnight screenings and a youth critic’s club. But at its heart, she insists the fest will remain unchanged.

“This festival had glorious days where everyone who was important in cinema attended, and it was a symbol of free culture and coexistence in a city that should stand for that,” she says. “I look at what Lia did, and I want to do the same.”


More Film

  • 'Who Will Write Our History' Review:

    Film Review: 'Who Will Write Our History'

    The most famous diarist of the Holocaust, Anne Frank, began to write down the drama of her daily life with no ulterior motive (apart from her teenage ambition to write fiction). But in March 1944, the year before she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she heard a radio broadcast by a member of the [...]

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

    Film News Roundup: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer Sets Sony Pictures Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sets a studio record, Chris Meledandri and Glenn Close are honored, an art-house streaming service is unveiled, and “Cliffs of Freedom” gets a release. TRAILER STATS The first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer has set a record as the biggest digital launch in Sony Pictures history [...]

  • Frank Grillo Hell on the Border

    Frank Grillo to Star in the Thriller 'Hell on the Border'

    Frank Grillo is set to star in the action-thriller “Hell on the Border” with Wes Miller directing. Miller also penned the script with Curtis Nichouls, Henry Penzi, and Sasha Yelaun producing. Ron Perlman is also on board to co-star. Plot details are unknown at this time. Production is currently underway in Birmingham, Ala. Grillo has [...]

  • Lee Unkrich Variety Oscars Nominees Lunch

    'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich to Exit Pixar After 25 Years

    Lee Unkrich, who won Academy Awards for “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is departing Pixar Animation Studios after 25 years to spend more time with his family. Unkrich joined Pixar in 1994 after working as an assistant editor in television on “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” He served as editor on Pixar’s first feature, 1995’s “Toy [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed

    Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed Back Several Months

    Warner Bros. is pushing back the production start date of its third “Fantastic Beasts” movie several months from July to the late fall, a spokesperson said Friday. Actors have been notified about the change in dates. The untitled third “Fantastic Beasts” movie has not yet set a release date. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content