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President announces cinema prize in memory of his wife, Nechama Rivlin

New award to be given to Israeli filmmakers in early stages of their career, Rivlin says at opening of Jerusalem Film Festival

President Reuven Rivlin speaking at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, July 25, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin speaking at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, July 25, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday announced a new cinema prize named after his wife, Nechama, who died earlier this year on the eve of her 74th birthday.

Rivlin made the announcement at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, which runs until August 4 and will feature close to 200 movies screened in various locations throughout the capital.

The prize will be awarded by the Jerusalem Foundation to Israeli filmmakers in the early stages of their career.

During his speech at the event, the president described Nechama’s love for cinema and the differences in the way he and she had been used to experiencing it when they met.

“For me, cinema has always been an urban experience,” he 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 different cinematic experiences, where the magic is far from the closed hall, from the velvet seats, from the heavy building.”

President Reuven Rivlin with his wife Nechama at the French ambassador’s home in Jaffa, on June 18, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

“Where Nechama lived, Moshav Herut, every Saturday evening the members would drag chairs to a sloped area in the center of the moshav, set up a wide screen — sometimes 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 to the right 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,” Rivlin added. “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.

“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 for cinema,” he told the crowd.

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