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President Rivlin spoke at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, where a new prize for Israeli filmmakers in their early stages of their careers was awarded in memory of his wife Nechama ז"ל

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin spoke this evening, Thursday 25 July / 22 Tammuz, at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, where a new prize for Israeli filmmakers in their early stages of their careers was awarded in memory of his wife Nechama ז"ל courtesy of the Jerusalem Foundation.

This year 19 projects took part in the festival: 12 films in production track and seven in post-production. The festival, which runs until August 4th, also includes the PitchPoint competition for promising Israeli feature films. Noa Regev, the director of the Cinematheque, also spoke at the event.

"Happy Film Festival!" the president began his remarks. "There's a city in the heart of the world, and every summer, it blossoms. Its streets fill up, the public spaces are crowded, and we the residents of Jerusalem, receive the pilgrims, Israelis and tourists who come to take part in the great magic. The magic that is the Jerusalem International Film Festival."

"For me, cinema has always been an urban experience," the president said. "As a child, I used to sneak in to escape violin lessons, and even when I stopped learning violin, I did not leave cinema. Only when I met my wife Nechama did I realize that there were totally other cinematic experiences where the magic was far from the closed hall, from the velvet seats, from the heavy building."

The president told the audience about Nechama's experiences and deep love for the cinema, saying, "Where Nechama lived, on Moshav Herut, every Saturday evening the members would drag chairs to a sloped area in the center of the moshav, string up wide screen, maybe a double sheet, and sit down. Two projectors stood side by side. One projectionist was in charge of the film, another was responsible for the translation, screened separately, handwritten and on the right side of the film. Usually, by the time films arrived to the moshavim and kibbutzim, they were in a pretty bad state, and the translation never synchronized with the film. But no one cared. Under the open sky, children did not sleep, and the adults conducted lengthy discussions about the film, and of course about the actors and actresses. So while my urban memory memories were of huge buildings like the Rex and the Orion, the Zion and the Edison, Nechama saw movies in the open air, with the smell the soil all around. I was a passive observer who dreamed of looking like those indifferent and charismatic men who filled the screen in American Westerns; for a young Nechama, cinema was a big part of her life."

"We had, Nechama and me, the city boy and the village girl, a very different kind of movie experience. But we both shared our love of cinema," said the President said, adding, "This is the first year I am coming to the festival without Nechama. It isn’t easy for me, I must admit. But when I look at you, so many film lovers with your sparkling eyes, and feel your heart, I feel at home here. Thank you, and thanks to the festival and to the Jerusalem Foundation, which decided to dedicate a prize to young artists in Nechama’s name. Your gesture moves us, the entire family. Good night, Jerusalem and God bless you all."

Dr. Noa Regev, CEO of the Cinematheque, thanked the president and said, "’Watching a film is an event that you have to give your entire self to.’ This precise and wise sentence was said by such a precise and wise woman who we all miss, the beloved Nechama Rivlinז"ל . Nechama loved movies and film with all her heart. No one who had devoted more of herself to them than she did. Every year at this festival she would see dozens of films. Between the screenings, I was privileged to meet her, to receive a big, enveloping embrace, a hug that was all hers, all Nechama. A hug that so many artists drew strength from. The halls of the Cinematheque that were so much her own were orphaned by Nechama’s passing last month. And this festival, and this evening, is so full of her absence. Nechama believed that there was no substitute for the cinematic experience, that moment we enter the dark hall, sit down in front of the big screen together and dive, as she described it at a ceremony here during last years’ festival. Diving into worlds we never knew, and into the souls of characters who enter our hearts. This is the experience produced by the Jerusalem Festival, a festival for people who love cinema just like Nechama loved it."

Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)