Haifa Arts Foundation supports the Festival since the beginning. The Foundation has helped various projects and productions. Later on, in an effort to encourage production of short films that deal with Haifa, in order to assist in documenting the life and history of the city, the Foundation distributed grants for screenplays and short, feature and documentary films, at the final stages of production, created by Haifa residents and/or taking place in the city. The Foundation also awarded prizes to Young Cinema films that competed during the Festival. In recent years, the Foundation gives the prize to first place winners in the Israeli Feature Film category. Haifa International Film Festival is held annually on Chol Hamoed Sukkot.
The Haifa International Film Festival—produced by Ethos and artistically directed by Pnina Blayer since1998—the first of its kind in Israel, was established in 1983 by Anat Asherov and Yossi Oren. This is a major, important and reputable international event in the cinematic field.
The Festival attracts some 300,000 visitors, who attend 280 screenings of new films from all over the world, as well as live music shows and open screenings for the whole family. The films are shown for ten days in five venues in Carmel Center, from morning until midnight.
The Festival hosts about 300 guests from the national and international industry. These guests meet the audience and colleagues in talks between screenings, receptions in the festival garden, masterclass workshops and international conventions.
The festival makes sure to promote ideas like pluralism, co-existence and peace.
The Artistic Program
The artistic program of the Haifa International Film Festival is known for its high standards and quality. Most of the films shown in the festival are award winners and are picked by the biggest and most important festivals in the world.
The Three International Competitions of the Festival
The Golden Anchor competition – for features produced in the Mediterranean.
Tomorrow's Filmmakers competition – A competition for films by first-time feature directors in the cinema world. FEDEORA, the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean sponsor the competition.
Between Jewishness and Israeliness – a new competition that revolves around the Jewish and Israeli being and which takes place for the first time.
The Israeli cinema competitions in the festival include competition for feature length films, documentaries and short films.
All competitions have international professionals for judges.
Guests and International Cinema
Premieres of new feature and documentary films from over 40 countries are shown at the festival. Guests of the festival who come from abroad, including directors, producers and actors, participate and converse with the audience. Among the former guests of the Festival, one can find actors Willem Defoe, Harvy Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Sophie Marceau, Joseph Fiennes, Paul Giamatti and Elliot Gould.
During the festival, special events take place alongside the screenings. The International Marketing Forum for Israeli Cinema includes a pitching convention for the development of dramas and films, the Israeli film market – Cinemarket Haifa, and the Haifa-U.S. Israeli cinema marketing enterprise. The forum hosts representatives of major international production companies who dialogue with representatives of the Israel film industry regarding future cooperation and collaborations.
Alongside the festival exists a rich nightly program of cultural events. These events are open to everyone and include live music, outdoor film screenings, and an artists' market in the nearby Mania Shokhat Park. The many cafes and pubs along the Carmel Ridge are open until late at night.