Jewish Journal


July 8, 2009

Record Attendance at Israel Film Festival


From left: Michael Moshonov (“Lost Islands”), Hadar Galron (“Bruriah”), Meir Fenigstein (Founder/Executive Director of the Israel Film Festival), and Shamuel Beru (director, “Zrubavel”) at the Sponsor and Filmmaker reception June 8.

From left: Michael Moshonov (“Lost Islands”), Hadar Galron (“Bruriah”), Meir Fenigstein (Founder/Executive Director of the Israel Film Festival), and Shamuel Beru (director, “Zrubavel”) at the Sponsor and Filmmaker reception June 8.

Despite founder and executive director Meir Fenigstein’s decision to tone down the festivities at the 24th Israel Film Festival in light of the stagnant economy, this year’s showcase of Israeli cinema was anything but dour. The June 3 opening-night gala at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre was tastefully modest, but the turnout was not — the grand old theater was teeming with boisterous film aficionados, local celebs and filmmakers, and actors flown in from Israel for the affair.

Far from toned down was the enthusiasm for the opening night film, “Lost Islands,” a touching family saga that sold out nearly every screening during the festival and prompted Fenigstein to add show times to meet audience demand. The founder himself was a little awed at the overwhelming turnout: “This year far exceeded our expectations, despite the economy,” Fenigstein said. The festival, which featured more than 30 features, documentaries and television series during a two-week run that ended June 18, reached a new record for the decade — more than 19,000 moviegoers attended screenings in Beverly Hills or West Hills, and box office receipts were up nearly 20 percent.

During the opening-night gala, Israfest Foundation honored Jewish Federation President John Fishel with the IFF Humanitarian Award. Other honorees included songwriter Diane Warren (IFF Visionary Award), Branko Lustig (IFF Lifetime Achievement Award) and Academy Award-winning producer Robert Lantos (IFF Lifetime Visionary Award). Eight Israeli graduate film students were honored with production scholarships and had their films screened during the festival. — Dikla Kadosh, Contributing Writer

Kriegsman Becomes 2009 Milken Scholar
Alixandra Kriegsman, a recent Milken Community High School graduate, was one of 10 students nationwide honored as a 2009 Milken Scholar. The Milken Family Foundation presents the award to students of all backgrounds who embody the intelligence, leadership qualities and drive to become the program’s model “lifelong leaders for a better world.”

The 10 winners, selected from 400 nominees, receive a $10,000 scholarship in addition to ongoing support and resources during their academic and professional careers.

Although Kriegsman attended Milken Community High School, the only link between the school and the foundation is Michael Milken, co-founder of the Milken Scholars program and benefactor of Milken School. 

In the 20 years since the program was instituted, nearly 250 students have been honored with this award and the accompanying opportunities for success derived from the monetary support, mentors, networking opportunities and ongoing resources provided. 

Part of Kol Echad, Milken Community High School’s a cappella group, Kriegsman also uses her singing talent to spread her love of music to children around the world by creating tutorials on reading music and singing and by forming the Rockaria band to play for children with special needs. She served as an editor-in-chief of Milken’s newspaper, was among 25 students from across the country chosen for the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and has won myriad awards in subjects ranging from science to music to English to service in tikkun olam (repairing the world). — Rebecca Abeles, Contributing Writer

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