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Israel signs cinema cooperation deal with Russia

Israel has signed a cooperation agreement with Russia on cinema, according to Russian and Israeli media reports on Wednesday, as Israel has continued to walk a fine line between Russia and Ukraine and maintain ties with both allies while they remain engaged in a bitter conflict.

A photo shared by the Kan public broadcaster showed Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi signing the deal alongside Russia’s Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova, who is currently sanctioned by the United States and European Union amid Moscow’s 18-month war on Ukraine.

The agreement gives film directors from both countries access to archives and facilitates collaborations on creating joint movies, according to an announcement by the Russian Ministry of Culture.

The deal has been in the making since 2009, according to the ministry. “I know how much the professional community has been waiting for this document, and how useful it will be for joint work. There are a lot of plans ahead, and I am sure this agreement will help take our joint work to a new level,” said Lyubimova during the signing ceremony, as cited by i24 news.

Lyubimova was quoted by Russian media hailing the agreement as “important” and adding: “We are eagerly awaiting Israeli directors in our cinema competition programs.”

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The agreement will “allow the parties to exchange experience and create joint projects in the field of cinema,” and bring in “additional funds to the film industry of both Russia and Israel,” according to the Russian ministry’s announcement.

Russian funds will be able to donate funds to Israeli directors and productions to integrate Russian professionals in production work, and vice versa, Channel 12 reported. Israeli filmmakers will also be invited to film festivals in Russia.

Ben Zvi was quoted as saying: “I’m convinced we will have many joint movies. Producers are interested in collaborations. Israeli films are very strong and shot at a high level. The Russian public will be able to appreciate them.

Over the past 18 months, Israel has been repeatedly castigated over its decision to continue to engage with Russia after it invaded Ukraine, and its refusal to provide military aid to Kyiv.

Israel has long maintained that it needs to maintain contact with Moscow in order to coordinate activity in Syria, and that it has sent repeated waves of medical and other assistance to Ukraine since the war began.