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Katriel Schory to Step Down From Israel Film Fund After 20 Years

Katriel Schory, one of the most respected figures in the Israeli film industry, will step down from the helm of the Israel Film Fund early next year after two decades in the post.

Schory said in a letter that he took the decision to exit the job but has agreed to continue serving as a consultant on international relations and activities.

In his letter, Schory wrote of the challenges the industry has been facing to maintain its independence and freedom of expression since the arrival of conservative Israeli minister of culture and sports Miri Regev. Regev has said on various occasions that she would axe government funds for filmmakers and artists who “defame” Israel. Regev has also been pushing since last Spring for a series of reforms which would would force film funds to hire 70% of their own script readers from a body selected by and subordinate to Regev’s ministry.

“Israeli cinema, mainly because of its great achievements, turned these days into an easy target for politicians, who in relentless efforts to change the existing cinema law and with a series of senseless and damaging regulations try to impose measures with the aim to curb the creative freedom and independent thinking,” Schory wrote.

He added, however, that “the Israeli film community [is] determined to overcome these hurdles and continue to safeguard the Israeli cinema, which is so precious to us all.”

Known for his fierce independence, Schory’s mantra was “without fear and without favor.” Under his leadership, the Israel Film Fund greenlit the production of more than 300 films, many of which traveled worldwide and played at festivals. Schory also signed more than a dozen co-production treaties to expand the reach and scope of Israeli films and talent. Some of the movies backed by the fund during his tenure include “Gett: The Trial of Vivianne Amsalem,” “Waltz With Bashir,” “Lebanon” and more recently the award-winning “Foxtrot” (pictured) which trigged a major clash with Regev.

Schory said he would be working with the fund’s board and the new CEO – who has yet to be selected – “to ensure a smooth transition.”

“In short, I am not yet ‘hanging [up] the gloves’ and will continue to do all I can to safeguard the complete creative freedom of the Israeli filmmakers,” Schory said, adding that he was “thankful to take part and contribute to (I dare say) the dramatic comeback of the Israeli cinema.”

Schory was celebrated during this year’s Berlin Film Festival with the Berlinale Camera Award during a ceremony attended by industry executives and filmmakers from around the world.

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