For the First Time: The Jerusalem Cinematheque Exposes the Treasures of the Israeli Film Archive Worldwide

January 20, 2022  22:21  |  News

For the First Time: The Jerusalem Cinematheque Exposes the Treasures of the Israeli Film Archive Worldwide

Photo – Bar Mayer © Director of the Israeli Film Archive Meir Ruso & Digitalization project manager Hila Avraham.

Since 1960, the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s Israel Film Archive has been responsible for the safekeeping and preservation of original Israeli narrative and documentary film works – from the late 19th century until the present day. The general public can now explore the Archive’s film treasures on-demand and from any place in the world. The innovative project, which started seven years ago, involves the digitization of rare film and video footage, some of which were stored in tin cans on the archive’s shelves for many years and for the first time exposed to the public.

The project includes an advanced digital preservation system and a detailed catalogue including 8,000 topics and 4,000 figures, accessible through an interactive search of public figures, dates or landmarks. The materials made available on the site are translated, tagged, and searchable in English and in Hebrew.

The new website features two main on-demand options: The Historical View that travels through Israel’s rich history through thousands of rare archival materials such as Albert Einstein in a home movie from 1949, Hollywood stars and politicians’ visits to Israel, the streets of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem during WWI and thousands of other newsreels and home videos; And the Artistic View, with a selection of over 300 feature classics and documentaries made in Israel. Some of the films are accessible to the international audience with English subtitles for the first time, among them is a list of Israeli classic cult films such as Avi Nesher’s Sing Your Heart Out, Boaz Davidson’s Alex is Lovesick and Halfon Hill Doesn’t Answer.

Albert Einstein From the Gin Stollman Collection The Israeli Film Archive Jerusalem Cinematheque

Albert Einstein From the Gin Stollman Collection The Israeli Film Archive Jerusalem Cinematheque ©

The Historical View is accessible free of charge in both English and Hebrew versions; the Artistic View contains feature films, some of which are accessible for a small fee.

The Israel Film Archive – an active member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) – holds over 32,000 titles, recorded on two million meters of film, and 4,500 hours of productions made in Israel, and has a digital storage volume of about 6 petabytes (6 million gigabytes). This project led to the creation of the first advanced professional laboratory in Israel transforming film reels into digital formats at international standards. Disintegrating film reels, often containing the only copy in the world of a particular film and unable to be projected until now, are now archived in 4k quality digital files, saving them from oblivion and guaranteeing a depository for future generations.

The Jewish Agency, from Carmel newsreels The Israeli Film Archive and the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Israel state archives

The Jewish Agency, from Carmel newsreels. The Israeli Film Archive and the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Israel state archives ©

Partners include the Jaglom Family Foundation, the Beracha Foundation, the Matanel Foundation, Mifal HaPayis – Israel’s National Lottery, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage.

Film Actor Kirk Douglas Visits Israel 1964 Herzliya Studios Archive

Film Actor Kirk Douglas Visits Israel, 1964, Herzliya Studios Archive ©

The digitization of these rare materials featuring filmed moments and creations from decades ago is an exciting endeavour that preserves history and allows people from all over the world to experience and learn of each other’s past. These rare visual treasures, now available for anyone, anywhere, have the power to connect people, history, and culture.


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