Falling in love in Jerusalem

In his upcoming film Jerusalem I Love You, Scott Berrie will present works by noted writers about falling in love in Jerusalem. Movie producer Scott Berrie is to turn his attention to Jerusalem for the latest in his series of …

In his upcoming film Jerusalem I Love You, Scott Berrie will present works by noted writers about falling in love in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem I Love You producer Emmanuel Benbihy
Movie producer Scott Berrie is to turn his attention to Jerusalem for the latest in his series of films.

A feature-length major motion picture starring Israel’s ancient capital city is to be filmed next fall and released to theaters, DVD, and video on demand in 2012. ‘Jerusalem, I Love You’ is the latest in executive producer Emmanuel Benbihy’s

Cities of Love series, all about falling in love.

Like his earlier Paris, Je t’Aime (2006), New York, I Love You (2009), and future films set in Shanghai and Rio, this cinematic ode will combine 10 to 12 short segments from well-known directors and writers in Israel and abroad.

Impulse Creative Productions LLC of Manhattan has licensing rights to produce the film. CEO Scott Berrie (45) relocated his wife and three children to Jerusalem for a year while he sets the stage for production. Though they will return to New York next summer, “I will stay here longer to get the film made,” he says.

“The stories can be from all kinds of genres, action to drama to quirky comedy, as long as the underlying premise is love – any kind of love,” Berrie tells ISRAEL21c.

Blockbuster Israeli talent lined up for the film

Berrie says he’s shooting for diversity in both creators and content. Some of the stories are original, while others come from existing published or unpublished works by noted writers about falling in love in Jerusalem.

“We have to adapt all of them to script,” he says. Each will get a different director; seven from the United States and Europe, the others from Israel.”

He has already booked blockbuster Israeli talent in literature and cinema. His production partner is David Silber of Metro Communications in Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s hottest producers. He is the man responsible for the Oscar-nominated Beaufort (2007) and the Venice Film Festival award-winning Lebanon (2009).

One segment of Jerusalem I Love You will be directed by the acclaimed Joseph Cedar (Campfire, Beaufort). Award-winning novelist/screenwriter Etgar Keret has agreed to contribute an original story.

Berrie is currently in talks with other possible participants including veteran authors Meir Shalev and Amos Oz; Israeli-Arab journalist Sayed Kashua, a popular editorialist for the Hebrew daily Ha’aretz and writer for the hit Israeli comedy series Arab Labor; Hagai Levi, creator and director of B’Tipul, the Israeli series that inspired HBO’s In Treatment, and Ari Folman, writer/director of the 2008 Oscar-nominated animated documentary Waltz with Bashir.

“There is growing recognition of the value of Israeli writers and directors,” says Berrie. “We want to bring the wealth of content that Israel is generating to the rest of the world.”

A story about love, hope and possibilities

In addition to private investments, Impulse won a grant from the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund – the first ever awarded to an international production. Berrie estimates the film’s budget to amount to less than $10 million, which is modest by American standards but five times the budget of the average Israeli film.

Whereas American independent films are financed through studios, venture capital, equity or angel investors, public funds are available to filmmakers in Europe and Israel. And Israeli producers often enter co-production agreements with corporations or even with other countries, like Germany and France.

Scene from New York, I Love You
A scene from New York, I Love You, which was released in 2009.

“Jerusalem is a diverse city and a UNESCO World Heritage site,” Berrie points out, “important not only to the Jewish people but also to Christians and Muslims the world over. Our film provides an opportunity to tell a different story about love and hope and possibilities, the human aspect of Jerusalem instead of the headlines. All we hear about are tragic outcomes, but people are here experiencing new love, old love – all the complexity of the human condition.”

Berrie, who worked for ABC News in Tel Aviv during the first Gulf War, has received New York University’s Stewart Satter Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. “We hope to create something beautiful, touching and meaningful to show people what Jerusalem is about and how its residents experience love,” he concludes.

About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.