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The Hollywood Reporter Names Jerusalem Film School As One of World’s Best

Jews: Still really good at making movies!

Liel Leibovitz
August 18, 2017
Courtesy Zeitgeist Films
Courtesy Zeitgeist Films
Courtesy Zeitgeist Films
Courtesy Zeitgeist Films

What are the world’s greatest film schools? The Hollywood Reporter posed this Talmudic question to a gallery of correspondents, who, yesterday, published their definitive list. There’s Rome’s Centro Sperimentalde Di Cinematografia, which gave us Michelangelo Antonioni. There’s Prague’s Famu, to which we owe the great Milos Forman. There’s the film school in Lodz, responsible for both Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda. And there’s the Sam Spiegel Film & Television school in Jerusalem.

Named after and largely funded by the legendary Hollywood producer—The Bridge on the River Kwai, On the Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia—the school was as humble and practical as Spiegel had been flamboyant and larger than life. Occupying an alleyway in the industrial zone in Talpiot, the school was founded in 1989, and, for the first three years of its life, refrained from submitting any student entries to international competitions, focusing instead on getting its pedagogy just right. While the more established film school, in Tel Aviv University, exercised a near-monopoly on cinema studies and enjoyed its proximity to the seat of Israel’s intellectual and artistic life, the small start-up in Jerusalem recruited talented and overlooked filmmakers and taught them the craft. It took the school just over a decade to claim its place in the front line of world cinema; in recent years, it has welcomed as fellows artists such as David Lynch and Wim Wenders. And in 2011, the school launched the Jerusalem International Film Lab, which helps young filmmakers from all over the world complete their first feature film. One of the program’s graduates, László Nemes, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film last year for his Son of Saul.

To celebrate this worthy honor, then, check out these recent offerings from Sam Spiegel grads, available wherever good movies are still respected and screened. Oh, and while Hollywood congratulates itself for letting a woman direct a big-time feature, the folks at Sam Spiegel long ago realized that empowering more women to call the shots on set is a very good idea:

Zero Motivation, by Talya Lavie:

The Wedding Plan, by Rama Burshtein:

Moon in the 12th House, by Dorit Hakim:

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.

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