In 1973 George Ostrovsky
dreamt of creating a cinematheque in Israel. For years, Wim and Lia van Leer
had been running regular screenings in Haifa, Tel-Aviv and then Jerusalem, of films from the Israel Film Archives. Aware of their enthusiasm and knowledge of film, George approached the van Leers. After a year he managed to persuade them and together they inspired Teddy Kollek to share his dream.
Seeking to bring new life to the Hinnom Valley beneath the Old City walls, the perfect site was located. George Ostrovsky provided a million dollars to get the project started and his family has continued to provide significant annual funding ever since. In order to complete the building, Teddy and the Jerusalem Foundation garnered further support from friends in the motion picture industry in Hollywood and around the world. The Jerusalem Foundation, and later the van Leer Foundation, have continued to provide substantial financing in support of the Cinematheque.
In 1981 the Jerusalem Cinematheque officially opened and Lia van Leer was named Director. The universal language of film became an integral part of the Jerusalem landscape.