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Jewish Journal

Stars expected to shine at Israel Film Festival

by Naomi Pfefferman

May 29, 2008 | 2:30 pm

Adam Sandler and Borat (a.k.a. Sacha Baron Cohen) turned out to fete the Israel Film Festival last year, and more celebrity surprise guests are expected to speak at the gala dinner kicking off the 2008 festival June 12-26 (honorees include ICM's Jeffrey Berg).

It's a sign of just how far the event has come in the last two decades, mirroring the increased profile of Israeli cinema on the international scene (Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir" competed for the top prize at Cannes this month).

But "Waltz With Bashir" won't be on the program this year; Israeli films in competition at Cannes often make their North American debut at major international festivals (think Toronto or Telluride).

"That can be frustrating, but there are more important things than competing with other festivals," said Meir Fenigstein, founder and director of the Israel Film Festival.

"Because of the two intifadas, there has been almost no American productions in Israel over the last 20 years," he continued.

At the gala dinner, he might get to unveil a possible government incentive to lure Hollywood directors back to Israel. "I'm hoping to announce something very big," he said.

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