After years of work on digitizing its collection of Israeli film clips, the Israel Film Archive (IFA), part of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, is beginning to share its collection online with the goal of eventually digitalizing its entire archive of more than 5,000 hours of film.

“To restore films is to touch history,” said IFA manager Meir Russo, as reported by The Jerusalem Post. “And digitizing our collection and making these films widely available have always been our dreams and our goals.”

The IFA features a copy of practically every film ever shot in Israel, including feature films, documentaries, newsreels and home movies.

The clips go back to the 19th century. Among them is an 1896 film shot in Palestine that is believed to be the earliest film made in the country that is still in existence, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The IFA also contains prints of tens of thousands of foreign films released in Israel.

The films, many of which are deteriorating and becoming damaged or faded, must be run through machines that process and repair them before they can be digitized, said Russo.

The IFA’s restoration project is supported by the Jaglom Family Foundation, the Beracha Foundation, the Kennedy Lee Foundation, the Mifal Hapayis national lottery, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Heritage Department of the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, the Culture Ministry and the Tziyunei Derech Project.

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