The Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School is the leading film school in Israel. On the Hollywood Reporter list of 15 best global film schools for seven years in a row, the school was founded in 1989 by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture and the Jerusalem Foundation, as Israel’s first independent, national school for film and television. Among those who played key roles in the school’s establishment were: Israel’s fifth president, Yitzhak Navon; Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and Ruth Cheshin, Director, Jerusalem Foundation.
The executive director of the school is Dana Blankstein Cohen, who took over from founding director Renen Schorr in November 2019.
Alongside funding from the Culture Ministry, the City of Jerusalem, and others, the JSFS invests in young filmmakers telling the story of Israeli society with all its facets, placing the School as a hub for the flourishing Israeli cinema. Serving on its board of directors are senior figures in the arts and industry, as well as other public figures, all of whom give of their time and energy on a volunteer basis.
Currently JSFS has 180 students enrolled in two tracks: the full track, a four-year program; and the screenwriting track, a two-year program. Thus far, Sam Spiegel has produced over 800 graduates, 75% of whom are employed in the industry, forming the backbone of Israeli cinema and television. An ongoing dialogue with our students is conducted by our 75 instructors, 30 mentors/guidance counselors, 23 support staff, and dozens of guest lecturers.
Among the school’s most prominent alumni are Rama Burshtein, Nadav Lapid, Talya Lavie, Tom Shoval, Nir Bergman, Noah Stollman, Yehonatan Indursky, Amichai Chasson, Elad Keidan and Ra'anan Alexandrowicz.
The Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School has been recognized at 220 tributes and retrospectives in 56 countries at various festivals and institutions, including at MoMA, the Berlinale (twice), the London Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, Cambridge University Film Festival (twice), the Jerusalem Film Festival (three times), and the Haifa Film Festival (twice). Every year, close to 40 shorts; dramas, and documentaries are produced at Sam Spiegel, most of which are screened at 400 festivals worldwide, among them Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, and Toronto, as well as student, LGBTQ, Jewish, and women’s, children’s, and youth film festivals.
In 2011, and as a way to provide horizon for our students and the entire Israeli industry, Sam Spiegel launched the Jerusalem International Film Lab, which brings 12 outstanding young local and foreign filmmakers to Jerusalem to work on their debut feature films. Along with outstanding film editors from around the world, from its first year, the JSFL has become an international hub of full-length feature filmmaking, 70% of which were produced, screened, and won accolades internationally, including the Academy Award for Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes, Hungary) and the Camera d’Or for Murina (Antoneta Kusijanovic, Croatia).
In December 2021 the Sam Spiegel Series Lab was launched with the aim of creating a bridge between Israeli creators and international audiences. With the support of Netflix and Paramount, the Sam Spiegel Labs are able to continue to back bold storytellers, who look deeply into the human experience in search for their unique truth.
A new Preparatory Program opened in January 2022, as a six-month program for Arabic speaking residents of east Jerusalem to train and guide an under-served population towards entrance exams for the School.
The Preparatory Program is creating a film community in East Jerusalem; integrating Arabic speaking students into the JSFS student body and adding diversity to an already mixed group; teaching academic, artistic and practical skills; and increasing the chance of getting accepted into film school.
Out of the first class of 10, four pupils passed the entrance exams and are now full-time students at the School. The second session is currently underway.
About School Founder , Renen Schorr
Renen Schorr, born Jerusalem, Israel, 1952 is a film director, screenwriter, film producer and Israeli film activist. In 1989, he founded Israel's first independent, national school for film and television, the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School, and served as its director for thirty years, until November 2019.
Since his days as a student in the film department at Tel Aviv University, Schorr has worked towards defying perceptions and erecting new platforms. He was among the founders of the Israel Film Fund (1979); chair of the film department at Beit Zvi (1982-85); the initiator and advisor for the New Fund for Film and Television (1992); the engineer of the Gelfand Fund for Short Films (1996); the driving force behind Israel’s addition to the European Film Academy (2001); the founder and chair of the Jerusalem Film Fund (2008); the founder of the Cinematheques in both Herzliya and Holon (2007, 2008); initiator and founding director of the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab (2011); the founder and director of the First Feature Fund for Sam Spiegel graduates (2015), and more.
Among his films as director are After (1977); The Battle of Fort Williams (1981); A Wedding in Jerusalem (1985); Late Summer Blues (1987); The Loners (2009) and Rabbi Heller Blues (2021)