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Banking on success

Jerusalem film school lab project singles out 2 promising TV scripts

Scripts of legal dramas in Israeli court system and Arab LGBTQ families win prizes given in partnership with Netflix, Westend Studios and Paramount’s VIS Social Impact studio

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Dana Blankstein-Cohen (left), director of Sam Spiegel Film and Television School with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos at the September 2022 awards ceremony of the Sam Spiegel Series Lab (Courtesy Shelly Simon)
Dana Blankstein-Cohen (left), director of Sam Spiegel Film and Television School with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos at the September 2022 awards ceremony of the Sam Spiegel Series Lab (Courtesy Shelly Simon)

The first round of the Sam Spiegel Series Lab supported by Netflix and Paramount’s VIS Social Impact studio wrapped with two winning Israeli scripts, one telling the story of Jewish law in the Israeli court system and the other about LBTQ Palestinians.

The $20,000 Netflix Series Development Award went to “Insignificant” by Mindi Ehrlich, produced by Efrat Dror, chosen by jurors looking for originality of voice, ground-breaking storytelling and an interesting exploration of form.

The legal drama television series portrays how ancient Jewish law collides and clashes with the modern Israeli everyday reality, told through the character of an ultra-Orthodox woman who works in the courts with a secular male lawyer, and changes she makes to overcome the system.

“Wafa,” also known as “Territory X,” written by Benjamin Freidenberg and Ihab Jadallah, produced by Ayelet Kait and Amir Harel, was awarded the $10,000 WestEnd Upcoming Talent Award.

The family drama is about married LGBTQ Palestinians in East Jerusalem and their families and the steps they take to live their true lives.

It’s likely the two prize-winning scripts will get the green light for future development, said a spokesperson for Sam Spiegel.

The Sam Spiegel Series Lab is a new creative enterprise from the Jerusalem-based Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, partnering with global streaming platform Netflix and Paramount’s VIS Social Impact studio.

Eight Israeli projects were selected in June and participants were mentored by top industry professionals.

The final session of the Series Lab took place in Los Angeles last week, in partnership with Netflix, VIS Social Impact and the Foreign Ministry’s Scripted Israel, an official delegation of more than 40 of the country’s top writers and producers who held four days of meetings with executives from leading streaming platforms, studios and agencies.

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