The Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) has shelved plans to host its latest edition August 20-30, and instead will look to hold a winter edition of the event this year, running December 10-20.
The Israeli fest had been set to become of the first international film festivals to hold a physical incarnation following the spate of cancellations and postponements this summer prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The JFF team had been confident that they would be able to go ahead, but the country is now experiencing one of the world’s worst second waves of the virus after a dramatic spike in recent cases. When the country’s lockdown was repealed in May, its daily rate of infection was in the double digits, and that has now risen more than 500% and is exceeding 1,300 daily.
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As such, organizers were left with little choice but to postpone, despite having already finalized a program of more than 150 films from 60 countries.
“This is a difficult and painful decision as we have been working on the 37th edition of the Jerusalem Film Festival over the course of the past year. The Festival program has already been finalized with over 150 films from 60 different countries, ten competitive categories awarding prizes in the amount of 1 million NIS, screenings throughout the city’s neighborhoods, special programs, and a selection of new film ventures,” said festival director Noa Regev and artistic director Elad Samorzik in a joint statement.
“The August Festival would have provided an important opportunity to spotlight the art of film, nowadays experiencing a major shakeup, as well as the Israeli film industry. We were hoping to offer a note of encouragement to the filmmakers, to the film enthusiasts throughout the country, and to Jerusalem – becoming a major tourist attraction every year during Festival time.
“We will continue to invest our efforts to promote the art of film in Israel. We believe there is no replacement for the physical encounter created by a film festival and its audience, filmmakers, and film on the big screen, and therefore, we will do everything in our power to hold the winter Jerusalem Film Festival edition during the month of December.”
The December edition will take place during the Hanukkah holiday and will include some of the films meant to be included in the summer edition as well as new titles. The fest will also look to hold an online program in the near future showcasing JFF titles on a new streaming platform launched by the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
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