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by Katriel Schory

Israeli cinema continues to excite, move and draw the attention of audiences from around the world. 2005 was the best year in terms of worldwide admissions (2.5 million), number of international festivals screening Israeli films, number of countries commercially distributing Israeli films and gross worldwide box office income (US$22 million – or 5 times more than in 2004). In Australia, recent films on commercial release included ‘Walk on Water’, ‘Ushpizin’, ‘Live and Become’ and the documentary ‘Watermarks’.

Such successes are reflected in the significant increase in co-productions and foreign investment - in 2005, overseas investment represented more than 25% of the total Israeli feature film budget. Such partnerships, whilst contributing to stimulating a creative atmosphere, are crucial in sustaining the successes of the industry in Israel. Europe and North America have been our mainstay with co-productions, but the recent announcement of the first ever official co-production between Israel and Australia highlights the increased awareness and interest in Israeli film.

The program for this year’s AICE Israeli Film Festival includes a number of award winning films, including ‘What A Wonderful Place’, ‘Out of Sight’ and the opening film, ‘Close to Home’. We are also programming a number of international premiers, including ‘Salt of the Earth’ and ‘Little Heroes’.