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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL wrapped in NYC

The 25th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL closed tonight in NYC with a screening of the Panavision Audience Choice Award winning film – Avi Nesher’s The Matchmaker. The annual Panavision Audience Choice Award for Best Israeli Feature Film carries a state-of-the-art Panavision package worth over $60,000 for the director and producer to use toward their next film shot in Israel. Mr. Nesher’s The Matchmaker was shot utilizing funds he was awarded from the Panavision Audience Choice Award he received for his entry in the 23rd IFF in 2008, The Secrets. Now let’s see what Avi Nesher brings us next!!!

Audience Awards were also presented in the documentary film and Student Short categories. Tied in the documentary category are Director Shlomi Eldar’s Precious Life, and Directors Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s Strangers No More, also the winner of the Best Short Documentary at the recent Academy Awards®. In the category of Best Student Short Film, the Audience Award was presented to Director Hadar Ageyev’s Abort, from the Minshar School of Art.

But the most exciting news is that “this NY edition of the Israel Film Festival has been the most successful in the festival’s 25-year history,” says IFF Founder and Executive Director Meir Fenigstein. “We have taken in over $105,000 through the box-office, online ticket sales and sponsorship tickets, which is a marked 17% increase over our previous high record from the 2009 Los Angeles IFF fest.

The 25th ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL opened with a sold out gala event at the Plaza Hotel and Paris Theatre complete with stars, paparazzi, filmmakers and sponsors. Emcee Tovah Feldshuh began the presentation by saying how she played Honoree Liev Schreiber’s mother in "A Walk On The Moon" and what a good son he was. Then she introduced the presenter, author Jonathan Safran Foer – but he was stuck home with sick kids – so onto the stage bounded Liev's self-styled 'partner-in-crime,' acclaimed star Naomi Watts, who proceeded to gush … "I could stand here all night going on about what a terrific man, actor, father and partner he is." Liev took the podium to thank his 'film mother,' and his 'partner-in-crime,' and then proceeded to say that upon hearing that he was being honored by the Israel Film Festival he did what every good Jewish boy does – he went right away and called his mother!!

The other Honorees of the evening were legendary Actor/Director/Producer Choreographer Stanley Donen ("Singing in the Rain," "Wonderful Town," "Two For The Road"), presented by Phil Donahue, with Marlo Thomas on hand, and venerated Israeli filmmaker Micha Shagrir, presented by the lovely Mira Tzur. Following the splendid reception, and awards presentation the Award-winning Opening Night Film, Intimate Grammar, was screened.

There were many terrific highlights of the festival – Having filmmakers from Israel, including Orly Silbersatz (Actress, Intimate Grammar); Igaal Niddam (Director, Brothers); Adam Sanderson (Director, This Is Sodom); Jorge Weller (Director, Salsa Tel Aviv); Keren Berger (Actress, 2 Night); Roi Warner (Director, 2 Night); Dan Wolman (Director, Gei Oni); Estee Meckelberg (Producer, Land Of Genesis); Shlomi Eldar (Director, Precious Life); and Kirk Simon & Karen Goodman (Directors, 2010 Academy Award Winning Strangers No More), on hand to support their films and participate in the Festival events. There were terrific Israeli independent - 2 Night, Salsa Tel Aviv, Gei Oni, Brothers - as well as mainstream films – The Matchmaker, Intimate Grammar, This Is Sodom - making their World and/or North American premieres. We had amazing audiences at all the documentary film programs – Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams, and the sold out Strangers No More among them. The special Homage To Micha Shagrir and the 25TH Anniversary screening of Avanti Popolo; even our first-time midnight screening of the horror film Rabies, had audiences lined up outside the AMC Loews 84th St. – and there were so many more.

IFF Founder and Executive Director, Meir Fenigstein, credits, “The awareness that US filmgoers have of Israeli films is growing every year. Israeli films have been winning awards and fans around the world lately and audiences want to join in on the excitement. Also, our move to the AMC Loews 84th St. & Broadway (AMC is the second largest chain of theatre in the United States) put us right back into the heart of our core audience. This festival successfully closed out our first 25 years, and our plans for the next 25 is to take the festival to new heights and to expand and grow in new directions utilizing much of the new technology available today.”

In the last two and a half decades, the Festival has presented more than 800 feature films, documentaries, television dramas and short films to over 900,000 filmgoers and brought hundreds of Israeli filmmakers to the U.S. to share their art. The Israel Film Festival is produced by IsraFest Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization created in 1982. The 25th Anniversary festival is presented in association with the Government of Israel, Consulate General of Israel in New York, Israel Film Fund, Rabinovich Foundation-Cinema Project, Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, and sponsored in part by Highbrow, Bank Leumi USA, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, CassaNY Hotel, Relativity, 20th Century-Fox, Nu Image/Millennium Films, Cheryl and Haim Saban, Maurice Marciano Family Foundation, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, Israel Bonds, El Al Airlines, and other corporations, organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of promoting Israeli culture in the USA.

The Festival’s mission is to showcase the finest new Israeli films in order to share with American audiences the country’s rich culture, diverse stories and modern Israeli life. The 25th NY Festival Chairman is Ronald S. Guttman, with Honorary Chairman Arnon Milchan; The Honorary Committee includes Avi Arad, Mark Canton, Gil Cates, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Meyer Gottlieb, Dustin Hoffman, Lainie Kazan, Penny Marshall, David Matalon, Mike Medavoy, Bette Midler, Rob Reiner, Jane Rosenthal, Terry Semel, Nina Tassler, and many others. Proceeds from the Gala Opening Night event will provide funds to support the IsraFest Foundation and scholarship funds at the top six film schools in Israel.

The 26th Israel Film Festival is slated to kick-off in Los Angeles on October 27, 2011, moving to Miami on December 7, 2011 and back to New York in early 2012. For additional information on the Israel Film Festival please call 877-966-5566 or visit: www.IsraelFilmFestival.com.

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Chatelin Bruno
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