Lia Van Leer, who for so many years championed and came to symbolise Israeli cinema at home and abroad, has died at the age 0f 91. The founder of both the Haifa and Jerusalem Cinematheques, as well as the Israeli Film Archive and the Jerusalem Film Festival, Van Leer was a pioneer, doing more than perhaps any other individual in Israel to support the growth of a film industry. Losing both parents to the Nazis (she was born in the town of Balti of what was Romania and is now Moldova), Van Leer first started a film club which grew into the Haifa Cinematheque and the Israeli Film Archive. From there she established the Jerusalem Cinematheque and subsequently the Jerusalem Film Festival.
British director Simon West (Con Air) has broken the record for UK film crowdfunding by raising $2.8m (£1.9m) for feature project Salty, according to the production. The money was raised via UK equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom. The rest of the film’s $10m budget will come from private equity, tax credits and pre-sales. Carnaby is handling sales on the film. Salty, adapted by Mark Haskell Smith from his novel of the same name, follows an ageing rock star whose holiday in Thailand takes a turn for the worse when his wife is kidnaped by pirates. West’s Simon West Productions is aiming to shoot the film at the end of the year.
BBC Worldwide has hired Skyworks managing director Damian Keogh as head of drama. The move follows the departure of previous head of drama Chris Stewart to Zodiak Rights last October. Keough will be responsible for the company’s acquisition of international rights for drama produced by third-party indies that includes Drama Republic, Ealing Studios and Eleventh Hour Films. He will also work closely with BBC Worldwide’s in-house drama teams in England and Wales. Keough will report to Martin Rakusen, commercial director for drama.