‘Forget Manhattan, try Jerusalem!’ Israel tells Woody Allen

Both President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem's mayor Nir Barkat are part of the effort, their offices said, with Barkat even holding a pow-wow with Allen and his one-time muse Diane Keaton earlier this year.

"President Peres always encourages producers and directors to come and make films in Israel," an official in his office said on condition of anonymity.

"When President Peres met with Woody Allen in New York in March this year, the issue was raised and he encouraged Woody Allen to come and make a film here," he added.

Barkat's spokesperson said the mayor also sat down with Allen and Keaton in Manhattan itself to try to draw him to Jerusalem.

"The mayor met Woody Allen a few months ago at a restaurant with Diane Keaton in Manhattan," municipality spokesperson Barak Cohen said.

"He invited him to come to Israel, but also told Woody that we would love for him to entertain the possibility of filming in Jerusalem and would do everything possible to facilitate him coming here," he said.

Cohen said the bid to lure Allen came in the context of a larger project to convince directors and producers to consider filming in Jerusalem.

"Not only is it important to show Jerusalem for all of its beauty and normalcy around the world, but also there's a well-documented history of films creating name recognition for places around the world," he said.

He acknowledged that Jerusalem's film fund, which provides up to $400 000 for projects filmed in the Holy City, was unlikely to meet the budget of an average Woody Allen film.

But he said that tax incentives and the availability of equipment and facilities could draw Allen nonetheless, and that Barkat planned to follow up with the film-maker in the United States.

"The message that we received very clearly is that it's under consideration," Cohen said.

"Before the end of the year we'll be back again and we hope to sit down and try to move the process forward." – AFP

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