Lia van Leer. Founded Jerusalem Cinematheque
Photo: Zoom 77
BERLIN – Lia van Leer, the Israeli film industry's first lady and a recipient of the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society, will receive a special honor this month from the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), one of the three most important film festivals in the world.
Van Leer will be presented with the Berlinale Camera, a special prize awarded every year to a film personality or an institution to whom the film festival feels especially attached and who have contributed to the festival through their work together.
Founded in 1986, the award is also granted to people who have advanced highly important matters in their life and through their work in cinema. The Berlinale Camera was awarded last year to renowned French director Claude Chabrol.
Van Leer, 86, founded the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Israeli Film Archive and the Jerusalem Festival, and was responsible for the establishment of the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, a research institute which also works to advance an understanding between Israelis and Arabs.
Van Leer, who was in a former Romanian area which today belongs to Serbia, was sent to Israel in 1940 by her parents, who later perished in the Holocaust, in order to join her sister who was already living in the country. In Israel she met her husband, Wim Van Leer, a Dutch engineer who volunteered as a pilot in the War of Independence.
The couple, who were cinema lovers, began screening quality films to their friends in their home in Haifa. Later on the two established "quality films" clubs in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
In 1973, when the Jerusalem Cinematheque opened, Lia van Leer moved to the capital, where she lives to this day. Her home in the Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood serves as a meeting place for film industry officials from all across the world.
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