JERUSALEM – The heavy hitters of the Israeli television industry gathered Saturday evening in Jerusalem to kick off Keshet’s third annual Innovation in Television conference, but started off the evening by paying tribute to Lia Van Leer, a pioneer of the Israeli film industry who died that morning at the age of 90.
The INTV Conference, a confab that brings together execs from across the globe for lectures, interviews and chats on the changing face of television, opened with a festive cocktail party and Israel’s premiere screening of the first episode of USA’s “Dig,” a Keshet-developed miniseries that bowed on U.S. screens on March 5.
Keshet CEO Avi Nir opened the evening remarks by saying that Van Leer, who founded cinematheques across Israel and for decades made an indelible mark on its film culture, would have been delighted to see the packed hall of attendees.
“She was a pioneer between Jerusalem and the movie industry, and she is an example for all of us of making the impossible possible,” Nir said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was also on hand for the premiere and worked alongside Keshet to bring production for “Dig” to Jerusalem’s Old City last summer, also began his remarks by focusing on Van Leer’s legacy.
“Lia was an icon,” Barkat said. “She dedicated her life to connecting between Jerusalem and film, and I don’t think we would be here today if it wasn’t for the decades of love and investment that she inspired.”
“Homeland” creator Gideon Raff, who created “Dig” alongside Tim Kring, took the podium last, introducing the Jerusalem-set “Dig” to the audience and remarking on his emotions about filming a series in his own hometown.
“Jerusalem is the city where I was born and raised,” he said. “I love this crazy city so I jumped at the opportunity.”
“Dig” follows an American FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who stumbles upon a centuries-old conspiracy while investigating a murder. Production began on location in Jerusalem last summer, but had to be abruptly relocated when fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.