Jerusalem on the big screen
3,500 years of history, faith, war, architecture and culture with 42 empires leaving their individual mark. Hundreds of songs, books and works of art from countless decades, from all over the world and in a variety of styles, have all celebrated it – Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The city of Gold, Jerusalem, for centuries has remained a place that the world can’t stop thinking about, talking about, dreaming about, and continues to inspire.
And yet somehow Jerusalem barely features in Israeli cinema. In the sixty years of the state of Israel and up until the establishment of our program, out of more than 700 Israeli films, only a mere 30 narrate the beautiful story of Jerusalem! That’s less than 5% of the Israeli cinematographic output. That’s an average of one film per year.
In a city of 800,000 residents, 40,000 students and hundreds of artists, all love, hate, dream, debate, endure and overcome. These are stories about humanity, but they are not being told. Stories not being represented on the big screen or on television.
That’s what we’re here to change.
The industry in Jerusalem
From the beginning of the 1970’s up until the mid-1990s, there was a blossoming professional television industry in Jerusalem. In its heyday, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority produced Jerusalem-based projects which employed thousands of creators and crew members. Together with the Israeli television industry in Romema, the city saw a rise in accompanying production houses and studios, such as JCS, Castel Studios, Orion, and Tel-Ad. The 1980’s saw the establishment of the Jerusalem film schools, some of the leading film institutions in Israel, becoming an anchor for Israeli creativity and securing the continuance of artistic endeavor in the city.
The introduction of commercial television and the simultaneous deterioration of Channel 1, both in quantity and in quality of production, resulted in a drastic rise in unemployment and the inevitable migration of film professionals. The supporting industries also had to go and try their luck elsewhere. Not even Tel-Ad managed to renew its concession, let alone the small independent companies, and thus the film industry’s time in the city came to an end. Students learning at Jerusalem’s film schools were forced to leave the city in their final year in the hope of finding a more promising professional future. Until today this is an issue for many artists.
We will change this too.
So why Jerusalem?
We live in a world of symbols. In the eyes of Israel and the international public, Jerusalem is perceived in a colorful light: a concept symbolic of religious belief, spiritualism and mysticism, as well as a symbol of political upheaval, and deep rooted tensions.
Often, this widespread perception allows us to forget that Jerusalem is a modern day city in every respect, a city where everyday life takes place, a city whose people have fascinating, moving and relevant stories to tell. The city has over 800,000 residents living in condominiums, housing estates, villas, nursing homes and rented apartments. Men, women and children ride the bus, private cars, bicycles and motorcycles. Employees, students, businessmen, shopkeepers and workers, in sickness and in health, in success or in failure, all live, love, struggle and overcome the hurdles that come their way. In the communities of Geula, Beit Hakerem, Beit Tzafafa, Talpiot, Rehavia and Katamon, all strive to find happiness.
These heartbeats of life are calling out for a little time and space on the big screen. Their stories must and should be told for the world to see, to hear, and continue on as a city the world is fascinated by.