April 28, 2005
Location, location, location is the secret to many people’s success. But for Meir Fenigstein, founder of the Israel Film Festival, timing is the key. That’s why he’s moved the Los Angeles portion of his 21st annual Israel Film Festival from spring to late fall, where approximately 40 features, documentaries, television shows and student shorts will screen Dec. 1 to 11.
The first step, Fenigstein said, was moving the New York branch of the event to late October and early November, following important international festivals in cities such as Toronto, Cannes, Venice, Montreal and Manhattan.
“All these arenas compete with each other for world premieres, and we aren’t able to compete,” the energetic Fenigstein said.
Instead, Fenigstein hopes that directors accepted elsewhere will subsequently submit to his event, especially if he invites plenty of potential distributors to New York and Los Angeles screenings.
“For me, to get a film after Berlin or Cannes isn’t a downer, it’s prestigious,” he said.
With higher-profile films scheduled and publicity generated by the powerful New York press, Fenigstein hopes for greater buzz (and attendance) when the festival arrives here late this year. (Only a handful of the 2004 Los Angeles screenings sold out, compared to 30 in New York, he said.)
Because December is the month when movies screen here for Oscar consideration, Fenigstein hopes his Los Angeles opening night will annually premiere Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards.
“That could become an icon of the festival and increase our prestige,” he said. “A bigger Hollywood profile is one goal for our next 20 years.”
For information about the festival, which will also run in Miami in January and Chicago at an as yet undermined time next year, call (877) 966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com.