In 1972 the Ostrovsky family began to survey cinematheques throughout Europe and initiated meetings with Wim and Lia van Leer. The couple, then based in Haifa, were well-known in Israel for collecting international cinema classics, organizing cineclubs and for their screening programs in Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.
It took George one year to persuade the van Leers, who were re-locating to Jerusalem, to establish a facility there exclusively devoted to cinema. Together they enlisted Teddy Kollek, former mayor and founder of the Jerusalem Foundation, to engage with their project and secure additional support from Hollywood sponsors. Lia van Leer identified a site near the old city walls and George Ostrovsky provided a million dollars to underwrite construction.
Dedicated in 1981, the family has continued to provide significant annual funding, along with other principal partners, including the Jerusalem Foundation and the Van Leer Group Foundation. Known locally as “THE” cinematheque, but officially as the Jerusalem Film Center, the facility now includes four screening halls, classroom and conference spaces, a library and comprehensive film archive. A café, garden and two terraces overlook an expansive vista from the Old City walls through the Ben Hinom Valley to the Judean Hills. Founding Director, Lia van Leer, who launched the Jerusalem International Film Festival in 1983, has led the JFC to develop the most diversified constituency of any arts institution in Israel. She continued as Director Emeritus until her death in 2015, alongside her successor Director, Noa Regev, in positioning the institution as a catalyst for cross-cultural dialogue and platform for the study, preservation and enjoyment of cinema arts.