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May 7, 2015 4:53 pm

Jerusalem to Build New Production Studio to Attract International Filmmakers

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced plans to build a production studio in Israel's capital. Photo: Chatham House.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced plans to build a film and TV production studio in Israel’s capital in the hopes of attracting foreign filmmakers, Variety reported on Wednesday.

“After Richard Gere and Natalie Portman made Hollywood films in Jerusalem, and NBC filmed here last summer for the series Dig, now it’s time to move to the next stage in the development of the film industry in the capital,” Barkat said in a statement.

Portman’s directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness, a movie based on Israeli writer Amos Oz’s memoir of the same name, filmed entirely in Hebrew, was shot in Jerusalem along with Joseph Cedar’s film Oppenheimer, starring Richard Gere. USA’s television series Dig also filmed in the city but had to stop during last summer’s Israel-Hamas war. The 10-episode drama was the first U.S. television series to be filmed entirely in Israel.

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The new Jerusalem studio aims to draw more foreign productions to Israel, while working with Israel’s public broadcaster to attract local projects, Variety said. The studio is also working to set up a partnership deal with Culver Studios in Hollywood.

The studio will be a major achievement for the future of film and television production in Jerusalem, Yoram Honig, director of the Jerusalem Film Fund, told Variety. Another goal is increasing the focus on animated projects in the city, he said.

Barkat will present his plan for the new studio to Israel’s government on May 17, also known as Jerusalem Day. The project requires at least NIS 50 million ($13 million) in municipal funds, according to Israeli media.

Barkat in recent years has backed a series of tax incentives to encourage international filmmakers to shoot in Israel, Variety reported. He also partnered with the Keshet media group to bring the annual Innovation TV (INTV) Conference to Jerusalem.

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