The Lab is a program in which six Israelis and six foreign participants make their first or second feature films together for nine months to prepare their films with a mentor – a prominent director/screenwriter, some Israeli and others from abroad -. to be financed and produced.
Laboratory director Orit Zamir in an interview at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem, located on a street in the Talpiot Industrial District, which was renamed a few years ago, Sam Spiegel Alley: Feature Films.
This is undoubtedly the case in the world of serious art filmmaking. When an international festival announces its film screenings these days, there are two or three films – sometimes more – that were developed in the lab or by the directors who made their first films in the lab. In the first nine editions, 91 films from more than 45 countries were developed. According to Zamir, more than 50% of them have been produced, and more than 75% of them have been shown at major film festivals. “The lab fired Jobs,” she said.
Zamir, a successful Israeli film and television producer whose work includes the Asian film Ruthie Priebar and the TV series The Missing File, came to the lab last year. The lab is run by the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem, which was founded by Renin Schorr in 1989.
“The success of the lab, which brings together Israelis and filmmakers from all over the world, shows how much Sam Spiegel has become a hub for international filmmaking,” she said.
To date, the laboratory’s most famous success was Hungarian director Laszl Nimes’ 2015 film Son of Saul, a true-to-life story about the Sonderkomand in Auschwitz, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Grand Jury Prize. in Cannes. Film Festival. Morena recently won the Golden Camera award from Croatian director Antonita Alamat Kocjanovic at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, her first film award. Anatolian Leopard by Turkish director Emre Kayes won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2021, an award presented by international film journalists. Brighton’s fourth film by Georgian director Levan Koguashvili won the award for Best International Feature Film and several others at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The first Dia Kolombegashvili, a Georgian-French film, was accepted into Cannes in 2020, although the festival did not Happening and winning major awards in 2020. At the Toronto International Film Festival and San Sebastian International Film Festival.
“All these victories were an incredible honour,” Zamir said.
Dozens of other films from The Lab have been shown at film festivals around the world, many of which have won major awards. Shows at Cannes include the Kindergarten Teacher (reproduced in the US in a version starring Maggie Gyllenhaal) by Israeli director Nadava Lapid, whose latest film The Knee Testament won the jury prize at this year’s Cannes. It is run by Philippe Lacote from Côte d’Ivoire. A Week and a Day from Poland, Asaph, who is also an Israeli director. At the Berlin International Film Festival, films developed in the lab include Black Frost by Argentine director Maximilian Schoenefeld. The audience award went to Sundance’s Imperial Dreams Film Festival, directed by American director Malik Vital and John Puig from Star Wars.
This partial list “gives an idea of the scope of the laboratory”. Every year, participants from abroad are exported from different regions of the world. Past and future participants in laboratories came from all over the world, including India, Malta, Cyprus, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Chile, Finland, Malaysia, Greece, Slovakia, Japan and France.
“We have scouts who are always looking for talent from new areas,” Zamir said. Despite the fact that the Israelis demand a lab that is open to everyone every year, and not just to Sam Spiegel graduates, outside participants are found by scouts who watch short films at festivals and film schools and search for screenwriters. Just in time for the lab. “Participants from all over the world truly create a multicultural discourse and creative community. Everyone brings something different and creates a unique artistic collaboration.”
However, the coronavirus epidemic, of course, is interfering with routine laboratory operations and disrupting almost every aspect of life. Last year’s lab continued despite COVID-19, but it was online. Lab X will be a mixed event. Prior to the pandemic, lab participants will have their first meeting with their mentor and then another two-week meeting in Jerusalem, followed by a closing ceremony and promotional event. “We used the pandemic to add a fourth meeting,” Zamir said. “We are pleased to know that a lot of the work can be done online, to the same uncompromising standard as a well-known lab.”
I also took the opportunity to add master classes with acclaimed directors, including American directors Elisa Hetman (never, rarely, sometimes, always), Debra Granic (leave an imprint) and Hollywood-based Israeli director Alma Harel (Honeyboy).
Prizes of $80,000 (NIS 257,800) were awarded to a distinguished project selected by an international jury headed by Frederic Boyer, Artistic Director of the Tribeca Film Festival.
This year, all awards went to directors: Oxygen produced by Israel Netalie Braun, Director Emerging Award was shared between Myrsini Aristida of Cyprus for Iris and Marianna Brennand Fortes of Brazil for sisters, three awards from the Peracha Foundation. . The new FACTORY 54 Artistic Vision Award has been awarded by Odeya Rosenak of Israel to seven chapters on survival.
On a personal occasion, lab participants will present their projects to producers and other film industry professionals in an online event watched by industry members from around the world online. The lab is supported by the Government of Jerusalem, the Perasha Foundation, Mival Hapais, the Jerusalem Development Agency, the Jerusalem Film Fund, the Sam Spiegel Foundation, the Ministry of Culture, the Israel Film Fund and Factory 54.
“Our goal is for all of our band members to make the best movie they can do every year,” Zamir said. “We believe in the necessity of stories and we try to support the people who tell them.”
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