Israeli film industry's pioneering figure dead

 Lia Van Leer, founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and a pioneering figure in the Israeli film industry, died here at the age of 90.

IANS| Last Updated: Mar 15, 2015, 20:11 PM IST

Jerusalem: Lia Van Leer, founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque and a pioneering figure in the Israeli film industry, died here at the age of 90.

She passed away on Friday at a hospital.

In the 1950s, Van Leer and her husband, Dutch engineer Wim Van Leer, turned their love of movies into film clubs that later expanded beyond their living room into cinematheque facilities in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. She also launched the country’s first film archive and the Jerusalem Film Festival in 1984.

Noa Regev, who was tapped in early 2014 to succeed Van Leer as director of both the Jerusalem Cinematheque and the Jerusalem Film Festival, released a statement Saturday expressing her sorrow, reports variety.com.

“Lia was a pioneer of the culture of cinema in Israel, and she continued to be involved until the very last day,” Regev said. 

“She worked with love for cinema and for her fellow man, for the sake of cinema culture in Jerusalem, in Israel, and for the international community. I will miss her dearly, as well as the immense amount of hope and inspiration that she gave me in my life. 

"She will be missed by everyone as a woman of culture, who for decades was one of the leaders and directors of this movement in Israel.”

Lia Van Leer served as a member of the Cannes film festival jury in 1983 and was president of the Berlin film fest jury in 1995. In 2004 she was awarded one of her native country’s highest honours, the Israel Prize.

Van Leer’s legacy in film was celebrated in the 2011 documentary "Lia".