In 1956, Lia and her late husband Wim Van Leer founded the first film society in Israel; later, in 1961 they set up the Israel Film Archive, which, in essence, was the seed of the Jerusalem Film Center.
The Israel Film Archive is the largest film archive in the Middle East and is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the art and history of film, television and video. Today, it contains over 30,000 prints including international cinema and all of Israeli cinema since the beginning of the 20th century. The Archive also has the largest collection of Jewish and Holocaust films in the world.
The present Jerusalem Film center - consisting of the Israel Film Archive, the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the Jerusalem Internation Film Festival - was founded in 1973, and is a tribute to pluralism, dialogue, co-existence, cooperation and the quest for freedom.
The Jerusalem Cinematheque has two screening auditoriums, the Samuel Edelstein Auditorium, with 365 seats and the 100-seat Rose and Charles Wohlstetter Auditorium. A program wtih a complete film schedule and various articles is published monthly. The Cinematheque works closely with international cultural institutions, embassies and local organizations. Currently, it has over 8,000 members and screens five different films every day.
The Jerusalem International Film Festival, which celebrated its 24th birthday in July 2007, attracts an audience of over 70,000 every year, including film stars, critics, directors and producers. The Festival holds its opening night gala with an outdoor screening under the walls of ancient Jerusalem. It is a venue for creating and stimulating dialogue and discussion for film professionals and audiences from different cultures.
Since 1982, the Jerusalem Film Center has housed the Department for Film Education, providing over 300 days of programming for primary school, secondary and high school students and special education students; it also offers courses for adults and professionals, enabling them to develop their analytical skills, critical abilities and tapping into new creative talent.
The present site of the Jerusalem Film Center was a ruined sone structure which was restored and rebuilt with the support of the former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, the Jerusalem Foundation, the George Ostrovsky Family Foundation, the Van Leer Group Foundation and others.
The Jerusalem Film Center is today supported by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Foundation, the George Ostrovsky Family Foundation, the Van Leer Group Foundation and others.
For more information, see the Jerusalem Film Center Website