One of the first highly successful films funded by the Israel Film Fund (IFF) was Avanti Popolo. Written and directed in 1986 by Rafi Bukai, the film is linked to the Six-Day War and is considered a masterpiece of the Israeli cinema. It is an ironic, brilliant comedy on the absurdity of war. It is also the first Israeli film to feature one, or rather two, Arabs.
Years have passed, but the film's importance has not diminished. Therefore, the Israel Film Fund has chosen it among the films to be shown online to entertain the Israelis during the long lockdown. As IFF executive director Lisa Shiloach-Uzrad tells Hebrew Pages, during the first lockdown of the country due to the pandemic, the IFF launched "Yotzim LaSalon". The name means going out into the living room. As part of the project, weekly home film screenings were held, followed by a panel with special guests and interactions on social media. Among the first films, says Shiloach-Uzrad, there was Avanti Popolo.
Shiloach – Uzard participated in #SheTechBreakfast!, a series of meetings on Instagram organized by the Israeli embassy in Italy. According to Shiloach-Uzrad, since its establishment, in 1979, the IFF has brought to the forefront of the screen characters and themes that had rarely been presented before: the difficulties of assimilation in an immigrant society; the complex relations between Jews and Arabs; the impact of the holocaust; religious versus secular cultures; military mandatory service in the Israeli army, etc. The Israeli Film Fund is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports in Israel and the Israel Film Commission. “Our budget is around 5-6 million euros per year and we operate through tenders. Israeli directors and producers present their screenplays for the making or development of the film. Afterward, there is an in-depth selection of the proposals. We get about four hundred to five hundred screenplay proposals per year. It is a lot, considering we are such a small country". Each year, 12-15 screenplays get the fund's support for productions, in addition to 25 screenplays that get a development budget, all submissions undergo a rigorous sorting and reading process performed by skilled staff. Finally, and after the procedure, 20% of the screenplays arrive at the table of Shiloach-Uzrad and her staff. The creators make presentations of their projects, and from them, the screenplays that receive financial support are being selected. “We try to make sure we support a very diverse range of films, directors, and topics. It is important for us to give a voice to artists who are different from each other. We combine support for veteran directors and emerging directors".
"We try to make sure we support a very diverse range of films, directors, and topics. It is important for us to give a voice to artists who are different from each other"
The work of the IFF continued even during the pandemic. “It was an opportunity for many creators to refine their ideas and improve their drafts. Despite the pandemic, the film industry has not stopped completely. Of course, our future is still in question, in Israel and the rest of the world, but I am confident and I believe that people will want to socialize. To go back to watching a movie together in theaters. Let me give you an example: I was told that the Jerusalem Cinematheque started selling tickets for March in February. In a short time, they were all sold out". All this is possible thanks to the formidable vaccination campaign in our country which allowed the cultural halls to reopen. I think Israelis are very similar to Italians culturally. They know how to have fun".