Did You Know?
• Israeli films have won international acclaim including 10 Oscar nominations for the best Foreign Language Film category.
• Since 2000, investments in Israel cinema by European and Canadian producers totaled about $15 million, increasing the number of films Israel puts out annually to nearly 20. (Israel Film Fund)
• Israel boasts some 120 production companies, 10 production studios, and 30 post production facilities.
Why film in Israel?
1. Experience crews and high-level production
Production companies have years of experience and are highly proficient at providing both complete and partial production services, including location scouting, production management, equipment, costume design, props and special effects.
Israel is on par technologically with international film centers globally, with a strong background in computer-generated imagery (CGI), sound post production, special effects, animation, music-mix and sound design. All laboratory work necessary in the filming process and for CGI can be done through Israel's local computer graphics imaging studio.
2. Ideal Location for Filming
Given the country's diverse yet compact geography and clear-blue skies for most of the year, Israel is an ideal location for filming. From sandy beaches along the verdant coastal plain, to the rolling hills of the Galilee, the snow-capped peak of Mount Hermon, the strange, desolate beauty of the Dead Sea, and the desert plains and rocky hills of the Negev -- Israel has it all within a few hours’ drive. This variety is also reflected in the country’s urban settings and architecture, which reflect a seemingly endless mix of styles and influences from every stage of recorded history, and in its abundantly diverse population with roots in over 100 countries covering Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia.
3. Innovative Animation Techniques
Israel's well-known experience in the software market gives it an edge when it comes to the innovative use of animation techniques. This has boosted the film industry’s creativity in visual effects and mastery in entertainment software and has resulted in further development of new techniques. In addition, it has also allowed for the creative use of more established technologies, such as the use of Flash technology in the 2009 documentary Waltz with Bashir.
4. Progressive Arts Community
Israeli talent is carefully cultivated through outstanding local cinema and art schools. For example, the visual communications department at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design has played an important role in nurturing the talent at Israeli animation studios. Alumni from the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School have garnered more than 260 prizes in international festivals in the 23 years the school has been operating. “Spiegel” has been recognized 15 times as the world’s best film school by peer group competition.
5. Strong Support from the Government
A strong public support system ensures the constant generation of new ideas. The industry is supported by four big funds: the Israel Film Fund, the Rabinowitz Fund, the New Fund for Cinema and TV, and Gesher. These publicly financed organizations help talented Israeli filmmakers bring their vision and creativity to the screen, encourage co-productions with international partners to help promote international cooperation, promote a creative atmosphere, and create better production conditions. Whereas some facilitate in the production of full-length Israeli feature films, others are specifically geared to stimulating the production of documentaries and television productions.
CoPro Documentary Marketing Foundation serves as an independent marketing channel for documentary films. It is is a registered nonprofit organization that promotes the making of documentaries in Israel by arranging for Israeli filmmakers and producers to meet television network executives and producers from around the world, thereby creating a cultural dialogue and encouraging joint productions. About 145 commissioning editors and film foundations representatives from all over the world have attended CoPro events to date. The fund also encourages creating links with natural partners for co-productions – the geographic neighbors of the countries in the Mediterranean basin. Over 218 films have been co-produced so far through the various programs the organization runs and it has brought in about NIS 40 million shekels from foreign investors.
6. Reduced Production Costs
The Law for the Encouragement of the Production of Films also supports film production in Israel through a framework that offers tax benefits for both Foreign Productions (of films and TV series) as well as co-productions (of films only).In both cases the benefits by law accrue to an Israeli production company that is expected to pass on these benefits to the foreign production company. To qualify for the benefit, the foreign production company needs to have an Israeli company purchase goods and services on its behalf.For foreign productions: this benefit pertains to films and TV series in which expenditure on goods and services in Israel costs exceed 8 million shekels (approximately $2 million).
Co-productions involving cooperation between Israeli production companies and international production companies benefit both parties and are eligible for generous benefits. In order to qualify, total production expense in Israel -- less 85% of the amount of the investment made by the Israeli residents in the film’s budget -- must be at least 4 million shekels (approximately $1.0 million).
Awards and Honors
Recent internationally recognized films include Lebanon, Ajami, Jellyfish, The Band’s Visit, Beaufort, Lemon Tree, My Father My Lord, Waltz with Bashir and Footnote.
Over the past few years, Israeli films were selected and screened in more than 200 International Film Festivals and won more than 80 prizes, including: The Golden Globe Award for best Foreign Film (Waltz with Bashir), Best Screenplay at Cannes International Film Festival (Footnote), two times Camera d’Or in the Cannes International Film Festival, and the Best European Actor at the European Film Academy Awards. In the last 12 years, four of the last five Israeli Academy Award entries were named finalists, giving Israel more nominations during that period that any other country.
• The US TV series Homeland, based on an Israeli show and starring Claire Danes, is filmed in Israel. Watch what Danes had to say about filming in Israel.
• Zaytoun, the first large-scale UK-Israel film co-production, began filming in Israel in 2012 and is being helmed by Gareth Unwin, whose film The Kings Speech won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Picture. In late 2012, it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received high acclaims from critics and viewers alike
*Pictures courtesy of Israel Film Fund.