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The mission of the Israel Film Festival is to enrich the American vision of Israel's social and cultural diversity, to advance tolerance and understanding and to spotlight Israel's thriving film and television industry. The Israel Film Festival has not been afraid to program films that reflect divisions in Israeli society. Also, we pride ourselves for showing films that reflect some of the less-than-perfect sides of Israeli life and politics. This diversity of opinion helps teach tolerance and appreciation of others. The medium of film helps to bridge the wide gap among the many diverse sectors of both Israel and America.
Israfest Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1982 by Meir Fenigstein, our Executive Director. Through our operating entity, the Israel Film Festival, the Foundation has striven to showcase the best and brightest of Israel's films, TV shows and documentaries. With the support of the Hollywood community, the Israeli government, foundations, corporations, organizations and individuals, the Festival has become the largest Israeli cultural event in the United States. Over the years, we have honored a wide array of filmmakers and industry personalities, including Penny Marshall, Laura Ziskin, Tom Rothman, Arnon Milchan, Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Gayle Ann Hurd, Norman Jewison, Arthur Hiller, Sidney Lumet, Michael Fuchs, Mike Medavoy and Milos Forman. Presenters have included Ivan Reitman, Peter Bogdanovitch, Ashley Judd, Peter Chernin, Garry Marshall, Cameron Diaz, Isabella Rossellini and Bette Midler. Special tributes have included a retrospective of the films of Rafi Bukaee (director of the 1986 Best Foreign Film nominee "Avanti Popolo"), Efraim Kishon (beloved Israeli comedian, recipient of 2 Academy nominations for "Salach" (1964) and "I Love You Rosa" (1972)) and Elie Cohen (prominent director best known for "Summer of Aviya" which won the Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1989.)