Israel lures Hollywood to Holy Land

JERUSALEM — Israel is tired of Hollywood filming Jesus' crucifixion in Italy and the Crusader invasion of the Holy Land in Morocco.

So Israeli officials are promising better tax breaks, terror attack insurance and handouts of up to $400,000 to lure international movie producers to the holy city of Jerusalem. They want to cash in on the multibillion-dollar industry, and want the real Jerusalem on the silver screen — not Mediterranean stand-ins.

"It's absurd. Movies set in Jerusalem are filmed in Malta, Morocco and Greece," said Yoram Honig, an Israeli film director and 10th-generation Jerusalemite.

Now the city is sweetening the pot for international filmmakers, offering cash incentives and a municipal department that will assist with filming permits and on-location logistics. Only four international productions are shot in Jerusalem each year, most of them European, Honig said.

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