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Films in the Desert Film Festival pays tribute to the School


On Sunday, Nov 17 Films in the Desert payed tribute the School with a celebratory screening of the restored Lawrence of Arabia.

This once-in-a-life time event took place under the stars, in the desert, 180 km from where the film was originally shot. 

To mark the occasion, Sally Beard of the David Lean Foundation, and Adam Spiegel, the son of producer Sam Spiegel, joined Founding Director Renen Schorr and incoming director Dana Blankstein at the screening.



Renen's Speech

I will never ever forget the screening of Lawrence of Arabia in super 70 mm Cinemascope at the Peer Cinema near the charming Yarkon River. At the time there were 25 cinemas in Tel Aviv. Peer was one of the two best.

I was ten. I was addicted to popular Hebrew-language film magazines where they showed breathtaking stills from Lawrence of Arabia. The mad hypnotizing eyes of Peter O'Toole compelled me to make sure to be at the first public screening on Saturday night.

I convinced my parents to go, the whole family, on that first Shabbat.  Well, they were greatly concerned that I would not be able to sit for three and a half hours. I was a kid with ants in my pants. So they decided we should eat first.

I sat in the cinema from 8:00pm till 11:30pm, the entire time- including intermission, at the edge of my seat, open mouthed. I wished I was taller so I could see over adults sitting in front of me. 

After the screening, while driving home, my father was thrilled and described in detail the context of the great Arab uprising and of T.E. Lawrence, about whom he had read so much.

My mother asked what I think it was a great, epic film.  I was silent. I didn't utter a word or share impressions. But I asked for money to go see the movie again at a matinee a few days later, after school.

After the matinee I was knocked out again.


Fade to many years later: I understood that in the eyes of greatest world directors, such as Spielberg, Lawrence of Arabia is their full-meal school as passionate filmmakers.


Of course, I never imagined that one day, in 1989, I would found a school in Jerusalem, named for the magnitude of Sam Spiegel, the unstoppable producer of Lawrence.

I have not fully seen Lawrence since - till this evening with you all. I did see it in poor 35mm prints or on the small TV screen. A replica of a replica. Not a rebirth of the real film on the biggest screen. The full composition as was the aim and design of David Lean and his colleagues.

Tonight we will watch together under the desert sky, 180 km from Wadi Rum where David Lean and Sam Spiegel, these two giants, took every possible risk to shoot this film at the end if the world, then. Later, they earned an unprecedented nine Academy Awards.


Tonight, at only desert film festival, we merged the film and the desert screening location. We want to thank Eyal Shiray, the founder of this festival for that.

We have the honor of hosting producer Sam Spiegel's son Adam, and granddaughter Ruby on her first visit to Israel.

And Sally Beard, a trustee of the David Lean Foundation is here as well, also on her first visit to Israel, via the desert.


Ruby and Adam Spiegel, Renen Schorr, Dana Blankstein, Sally Beard



Earlier that same day, the festival has screened a selection of the best of the School's shorts, hand-picked by Films in the Desert director Eyal Shiray.The films included in this tribute are:

Home - David Ofek (18 min, 1994)
Sea Horses- Nir Bergman (1998, 17:30 min)
Hungry Heart - Tom Shoval (2005, 13 min)
212 - Boaz Frankel (2016, 20 min)
Sliding Flora - Talya Lavie (2003, 12 min)



View complete news list >>
Tribeca Film Festival will screen two films by JSFS alumna
Dana Blankstein Cohen has taken over as the new director of the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School
Fourth annual Bloom/Spiegel Seminar was a great success
Listening In, by Omer Sternberg, was highly praised at the 2020 Berlinale
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