The fragile bones he was born with never broke Michel Petrucciani’s spirit. Though he was less than a meter tall, he climbed to great heights thanks to his piano playing – much higher than anyone could have imagined when he was a child. A documentary about him will be shown at 9:30 P.M. tonight at the Tel Aviv Museum as part of the Epos International Art Film Festival.
Michael Radford, who has directed high-profile films such as “Il Postino” – directed the documentary, which came out in 2011 and premiered at Cannes. Radford admits that he was hardly familiar with Petrucciani’s work and hadn’t directed a documentary for around 25 years. But for him every film is a journey that culminates in a sense of wonder.
Petrucciani, who wanted to live life to the fullest, suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, which confined him to a wheelchair or crutches. He was born in Orange in southern France to a French-Italian family. The doctors didn’t believe he would live beyond 20.
He had other plans. Jazz and other music genres conquered his heart when he was very young. In the film, he describes how he saw Duke Ellington perform and was awestruck.
“It was kind of – wow! I wanted a piano to play like he did,” he says, wearing dark glasses and the impish smile of someone who knows he’ll get everything he asks for thanks to his enormous willpower.
Since he never attended school, he stayed at home and practiced the piano, to which he devoted 10 hours a day. The keys, in return, gave him their love.
He began performing in his youth and recorded albums in France, but his big dream was to cross the ocean. Like so many other things for him, America didn’t seem too far away. There he met jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd in an encounter that, according to him, changed his life.
As a performer, he used his unusual appearance to his advantage. Wearing a black fedora, he was aware of the magic and charm that flowed from him when he played. Now it was the audience’s turn to gape.
Petrucciani, who performed at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat in 1989 and 1998, was not only a lover of life. He was also attracted to drugs and became as addicted to them as to the music. But the music didn’t stop. He was signed by prestigious Blue Note Records and recorded albums alongside Roy Haynes, Wayne Shorter and many others.
He was faithful to them, but much less so to his women, it appears, maybe because he felt that his time was short. He was married several times, once for only three months. His heart was broken after he had a son with the same genetic disease.
In 1999, a few days after his 36th birthday, he was taken to a Manhattan hospital after his condition had deteriorated. He died and was buried in Paris’ Pere Lachaise Cemetery, next to Chopin. The documentary, a French-Italian-German co-production, testifies that his musical spirit remains a legacy.
While she’s currently in Israel, filming a new TV drama “Allenby,” Moran Atias has received exiting news – that she’s got a role in Will Smith’s next movie.
The rumor is that Atias auditioned for the role of Smith’s wife and the mother of his 13 year old son, but after watching her audition, which was really good, Smith claimed that she looks too young to be a mom of a 13 year old boy, and offered her another role in the movie, a role of a cop.
After finishing her filming in Israel, Moran will pop over to Los Angeles to meet with the casting director and Smith himself, and see if she can officially take the role.
The movie that the role is rumored to be in is “After Earth”, a Sci-Fi where the elder Smith is playing a hero, while Jaden Smith, Will’s real life son, portrays his son, who’s considered a failure as a warrior. When the two crash-land on Earth, it is up to the son to save the dad.
The Hollywood Reporter claims that the role of Will’s wife eventually went to Brit actress Sophie Okonedo, and according to screenwriter Gary Whitta’s twitter, shooting begins next week in Costa Rica. “This week the AFTER EARTH cast & crew moves to Costa Rica to begin filming!” Whitta twitted, “Then onto Philadelphia, Utah, and Northern California”.
A Tel Aviv-area planning committee approved on Thursday a plan to build what will become Israel’s tallest skyscraper.
The 70-story high-rise, approved by the Tel Aviv District Planning and Construction Committee, will be built in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim and rise to a height of 235 meters.
The new skyscraper will contain offices, a shopping center, a conference center and a hotel, as well as the new offices of the Givatayim municipality.
Construction is expected to cost approximately NIS 1 billion ($268 million) and last approximately five years. The project is being constructed by Eurocom Real Estate, owned by businessman Shaul Alovitch.
The tower will be built adjacent to the neighboring city of Ramat Gan’s Diamond Exchange district, where Israel’s current tallest building, the 68-story Moshe Aviv Tower, is located.
Another office tower slated for construction in the area is expected to surpass it in the future, with a height of 270 meters and reaching 72 stories.
Givatayim Mayor Reuven Ben Shahar said the city’s policy was to promote high-rise construction on the edges of the city, while preserving the urban fabric of quieter residential neighborhoods. He added that the new building and other planned high-rises would significantly increase the city’s municipal tax base.
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which opened in January of 2010, is currently the world’s tallest building, at 830 meters and 163 habitable floors.
Weizmann Institute scientists manage to trick immune systems of mice into targeting one of body’s players in autoimmune process
In diseases such as Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues.
But today, thanks to a group of Weizmann Institute scientists, the immune system is learning that “turnabout is fair play.”
The Weizmann Institute of Science, located in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research institutions.
The scientists at the Weizmann have managed to trick the immune systems of mice into targeting one of the body’s players in the autoimmune process, an enzyme known as MMP9.
Prof. Irit Sagi of the Biological Regulation Department, along with her research group, has spent years looking for ways to block members of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzyme family.
But, when these proteins, which expedite wound-healing and offer other benefits, get out of control, they can actually help autoimmune disease and cancer metastasis. Blocking these proteins might lead to effective treatments for a number of diseases.
Originally, Sagi and others had designed synthetic drug molecules to directly target MMPs. But these drugs had extremely severe side effects.
Application for patent
Dr. Netta Sela-Passwell began working on an alternative approach in Sagi’s lab, when they decided that, rather than attempting to design a synthetic molecule to directly attack MMPs, they would try to trick the immune system into creating natural antibodies that would target them through immunization.
Just as immunization with a killed virus induces the immune system to create antibodies that then attack live viruses, an MMP immunization would trick the body into creating antibodies that block the enzyme at its active site.
Soon, an artificial version of the metal zinc-histidine complex at the heart of the MMP9 active site was created. They then injected these small, synthetic molecules into mice and then checked the mice’s blood for signs of immune activity against the MMPs.
The antibodies they found, which they dubbed “metallobodies,” were similar but not identical to TIMPS, and a detailed analysis of their atomic structure suggested they work in a similar way – reaching into the enzyme’s cleft and blocking the active site.
The metallobodies were selective for just two members of the MMP family – MMP2 and 9 – and they bound tightly to both the mouse versions of these enzymes and the human ones.
As they hoped, when they had induced an inflammatory condition that mimics Crohn’s disease in mice, the symptoms were prevented when mice were treated with metallobodies.
“We are excited not only by the potential of this method to treat Crohn’s,” says Sagi, but by the potential of using this approach to explore novel treatments for many other diseases.”
Yeda, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute, has applied for a patent for the synthetic immunization molecules as well as the generated metallobodies.