A Short History of the festival

Since 2002, the Film and Television School of Sapir College has been coordinating the Cinema South Festival, which was held at the Sderot Cinemateque. The motto of the festival in the words of Avner Faingulerent, the executive director and initiator of the festival: “The Cinema South Festival is a cinematic weltanschauung that advocates a richly humanistic cinema operating on a shoestring budget”.
In the first few years, the Festival was modest and served as a local and small event. However, in 2004 the Festival became well recognized and attracted many individuals from throughout Israel. Staff from the Sapir College planed, coordinated and implemented the entire event. In addition, the College invested a great deal of resources for the benefit of the festival. On 2006 the festival appointed Mr. Erez Pery as the Program Director of the Cinema South Festival.
The festival became within a few years a well respected international film festival that gives a central stage to Israeli cinema and world cinema. The festival exposes the audience in the south (but not only them) to the modern cinema with all of its colors and diversity and at the same time spreads and exposes the Israeli local cinema scene to the world; Since it was established, the Israeli cinematic programs of the festival appeared in France, Switzerland, the U.S., and London. In recent years the festival has won a great deal of meaningful exposure in the international press and appeared in leading newspapers such as the British Independent and France’s Le Monde.
The secret of the success of the Festival lies in this unique, innovative connection, as it contains vision, faith and real truth, which attempt to affect the design of the Israeli society.

Sapir College

The Sapir College (a registered non-profit) is a leading academic institution, accredited by the Council for Higher Education that enrolls approximately 8,000 students. Sapir stands out on the academic landscape because it commits its B.A students to simultaneously pursue what we call a “human degree”. Studies at the College emphasize the students’ personal growth as well as their involvement in the community of the northwest Negev.
The Sapir College exemplifies the periphery in terms of its physical and social attributes. The student body reflects the local population and is mainly composed of students from development towns (especially Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim), kibbutzim, moshavim and many new immigrants and Bedouins from all over the Negev. The College maintains a high degree of social awareness and goes to great lengths to make the education that it provides accessible to people in the periphery.
One of the most distinctive departments of the Sapir College is its The Film and Television School headed by Dr. Avner Faingulernt. One might think that the Western Negev is an unlikely location for an academic institute that deals with cinema. It is far from the “centers of culture” of modern-day Tel Aviv and historical Jerusalem. Yet over the past few years, the School of Film and Television has become recognized as one of the leading schools of film in Israel. Indeed, many see it as the preeminent film school in the country whose graduates regularly win many of the most coveted awards at Israeli film festivals.
Despite the professional success and recognition, the school sees its greatest achievement in the quality of its student population and their reaching out to the communities of the South. The student body is made up of men and women from challenged neighborhoods and development towns, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Europe and North America, Bedouins, Kibbutzniks and Moshavniks as well as students from throughout Israel. Each student comes with his or her own personal narrative, life experience, heritage and individual story. With professional training, professors and teachers providing hands-on experience, these students go on to tell the story of Israel from many different angles and perspectives. They produce documentaries and feature films from vantage points which main stream Israel cinema does not, and in most cases could not provide.


Sderot was founded in 1951. The first settlers of Sderot were Kurdish and Persian immigrants who lived in tents and shacks before permanent housing was completed in 1954. In the 1961 census, the percentage of North African immigrants, mostly from Morocco, was 87% in the town, whilst another 11% of the residents were immigrants from Kurdistan. In the 1950s, the city continued to absorb a large number of immigrants from Morocco and Romania, and was declared a local council in 1958. Sderot again absorbed a large immigrant population during the big immigration wave from the Soviet Union in the 1990s, and its population doubled in this decade. In 1996 it was declared a city.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “an unusually high ratio of singers, instrumentalists, composers and poets” have come from this small town. Sederot is noted for producing a series of hot bands; Because Sderot is an immigrants town with high unemployment experiencing a dramatic musical success as bands blend international sounds with the music of their Moroccan immigrant parents, it has been compared to Liverpool in the sixties. Among the notable bands are Teapacks Knesiyat Hasekhel and Sfatayim. Well-known musicians from Sderot include Shlomo Bar, Kobi Oz, Haïm Ulliel and Smadar Levi.
Sderot Cinematheque
The Sderot Cinematheque hosts the festival since it was establish in 2002. The Sderot Cinemateque located in down town Sderot. The Cinematheque shows films of different genres and tastes. Classical works of the finest directors, contemporary mainstream options, and of course a good selection of experimental and avant-garde pieces. The Cinematheque contained two fully equipped cinema halls with 300 and 140 seats.