Katriel Schory Interview

IP: Israeli cinema has been undergoing tremendous growth in the past decade. How would you describe it today?

About ten years ago we practically disappeared from the world scene, and we especially let our audience die in Israel itself. We had to go through a very vigorous recovery plan and completely changed the way we read, select and finance films. We designed a selection process that really helped us trace the real talent of this country.
We also have some very good film schools where graduates were able to learn how to tell a story in a much more engaging way, in a way that really touches and moves people.
Israeli films are based on the first-hand experience of the filmmakers themselves. This creates very strong and powerful stories that often focus on relationships – particularly family relationships – on dialogue and on strong acting.
Filmmakers never shy away from talking about the most pressing issues and the most difficult, and sometimes controversial, subjects of the reality of this super turbulent and edgy country we’re in, a country that lives all the time on the edge because of the political turmoil inside and outside. This all gets reflected in the films.

IP: What are the best places in Tel-Aviv to see good films?

We actually managed to create a policy about marketing and distribution through which Israeli feature films are shown everywhere, not only in the cinematheques or specialized cinemas. We had to recreate our audience, reach out to the people, bring them back to the cinemas to see Israeli films. It’s been working quite well – we release 16 Israeli feature films every year and last year they reached almost 15% of all the tickets sold in Israeli cinemas.

IP: You travel a lot around the world to attend festivals and industry events. What’s the best part of it all?

For me, it’s not about traveling, it’s work. We have a mission to promote Israeli films as much as we can and to create more and more opportunities for filmmakers to meet with colleagues all over the world, to try joint ventures, co-productions and so on. One third of all the money invested in all Israeli feature films comes from overseas. This is a clear indication of the trust producers have all over the world for Israeli producers, of the appreciation for the talent of Israeli directors, and the recognition of the power of our stories. I’m out there to push Israeli cinema wherever it can go: markets, pitching, business people, producers, distributors…

IP: Is there one movie or kind of movie you would like to see made in Israel?

All I would like is to get more into genre-type movies. Israeli cinema is a very personal cinema, but we don’t have horror, sci-fi, thrillers, or romantic comedies. I believe part of maturing and growing as an industry is also to open up to the other uses of the film language. There’s nothing wrong with an Israeli horror movie or an Israeli romantic comedy!

IP: Tel-Aviv has grown into a major hub for Israeli cinema, but also for many other cultural areas. Can you talk about the evolution of the city?

Because I’m traveling so much, I can tell you Tel-Aviv is one of the most liveliest cities in the world, with a tremendous cultural scene and great activity, and a lot of young people. It’s a city that never stops, that allows people to dare and go all the way with their dreams and whatever they want to do. You can easily feel it, if you see the amount of theatre, dance, music, cinema, art, galleries… it’s unbelievable for such a small place. You can find anything you want here. There is a tremendous creative energy in this country, and a tremendous creative energy in Tel-Aviv.

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