Founded by Meir Fenigstein in 1982, the Israel Film Festival started out with six films and a dream. It has grown to become one of the most important Israeli cultural events in the world and the largest showcase for Israeli films in the United States.
The Festival is presented annually by IsraFest Foundation, Inc. – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles.
For 31 years, the Israel Film Festival has played a vital educational role in spotlighting Israel’s thriving film and television industry. The annual event provides an intercultural exchange to advance tolerance and understanding among diverse audiences, and to enrich the American vision of Israel’s social and cultural diversity. To date, the Festival has showcased nearly 1000 feature films, documentaries, television dramas and student shorts to hundreds of thousands of film-goers, and brought more than 500 Israeli filmmakers to the U.S. to connect with the Hollywood Community, opening doors for distribution and co-production.
Past festival honorees included: Gila Almagor, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Barker, Peter Bemis, Jeff Berg, Tom Bernard, Bernie Brillstein, David Brown, Danny DeVito, Danny Dimbort, Stanley Donen, Kirk Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Miloš Forman, Michael Fuchs, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Elliot Gould, Jonah Hill, Arthur Hiller, Norman Jewison, Ryan Kavanaugh, Larry King, Jon Landau, Martin Landau, Sherry Lansing, Robert Lantos, Avi Lerner, David Linde, Limor Livnat MK, Sidney Lumet, Branko Lustig, Penny Marshall, Mike Medavoy, Arnon Milchan, Helen Mirren, Sharon Nazarian, Avi Nesher, David Nevins, Mace Neufeld, Amy Pascal, Natalie Portman, Carl Reiner,Rob Reiner, Tom Rothman, Jay Sanderson, James Schamus, Liev Schreiber, Smitty, Aaron Sorkin, Sharon Stone, Irwin Winkler, Laura Ziskin, Edward Zwick, Israel’s President Shimon Peres, Nobel Prize author Elie Wiesel, Daphna Ziman.
Past festival presenters included: Avi Arad, Warren Beatty, Peter Chernin, Kat Dennings, David Diaan, Cameron Diaz, Phil Donahue, Michael Douglas, Héctor Elizondo, Jim Gianopulos, Jeff Goldblum, Dustin Hoffman, Ashley Judd, Garry Marshall, Bette Midler, Larry Miller, Ivan Reitman, Seth Rogan, Isabella Rossellini, Adam Sandler, Naomi Watts, Jerry Weintraub, Rachel Weisz, Mort Zuckerman.