Israel may not have had a film in the game this year, but for one Israeli in the industry Oscars 2014 will indeed be a year to remember.
Niv Adiri, from Kfar Vitkin in central Israel, was one of a team of four sound engineers who picked up a golden statuette on Sunday night for his work on the multi-award winning “Gravity.”
The technologically ground-breaking sci-fi blockbuster stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts stranded in outer space when their space station is destroyed in a freak debris storm.
“It was a perfect evening,” Adiri told Army Radio on Monday morning. It is an honor to hold that statue. When I heard my name, I couldn’t believe it. I cannot describe the feeling.”
“The movie is so different and so unique, that it gave us a certain edge,” he told the radio. “In space there is no sound so that made my work a little different… the sound needed to add to the movie in a different way.”
“It’s like a dream,” he said, “but apparently it’s real.”
Adiri won the Best Sound Mixing Oscar along with colleagues Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro. The team also picked up the British academy award, the BAFTA, for his work on the movie.
“Gravity” took home a total of seven Oscars on Sunday night, including the Best Director award for Alfonso Curaon.
Israel’s Tourism, Finance and Economy ministries, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, have approved a grant to encourage the shooting of mega-budget movie productions and an international TV series by the leading NBC network in Jerusalem.
The grant allocations are designed to develop the film industry in the capital and to bring Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular to millions of TV and movie screens around the world.
According to the Tourism Ministry, this will strengthen the local TV and movie industry in Israel and bring significant investment into the areas where the shooting will take place, creating new employment opportunities and attracting investment and other productions.
The Ministry estimates that the series will make a significant contribution to revenue from incoming tourism and will positively affect the numbers of visitors to Israel.
The initiative involves an unprecedented partnership between the Tourism, Finance and Economy ministries, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Film and Television Fund in the Jerusalem Development Authority, bringing the capital into line with other major international cities that work to promote the movie industry and their international image.
The first slice of the grant – up to NIS 14 million (about $4 million) – will be shared accordingly: The Finance Ministry – NIS 4 million; the Tourism Ministry, Economy Ministry, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry – NIS 3 million each; and the Jerusalem Municipality – NIS 1 million.
In the second round of the grant, worth up to NIS 8 million, the split is as follows: Finance Ministry – NIS 1.9 million; Tourism Ministry, Economy Ministry, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry – NIS 1.7 million each; and the Jerusalem Municipality – NIS 1 million.
Benjamin Millepied, French dancer and choreographer married to Oscar-winning Jerusalem-born actress Natalie Portman, announced he will convert to Judaism.
The couple is currently in Israel with their two and a half year old son Aleph, as Portman does casting for her first movie as director, an adaption of Israeli author Amos Oz’s “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”
In an interview with Yedioth Aharonoth Wednesday, the couple said they will be here till the end of March, and Millepied, who said he already “fell in love with the country,” is looking forward to getting to know Portman’s family and the country better. This is only his second time in the country.
He told the paper he is in the middle of the conversion process and looks forward to becoming Jewish.
The two married in a small Jewish ceremony last year in California. They met on the set of the movie Black Swan, where Portman played a self-mutilating ballerina and Millepied was a choreographer and actor.
Stories about Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan’s alleged double life have been circulating for years.
Now, the Israeli businessman behind hits like “Pretty Woman,” ”Fight Club” and “LA Confidential” has finally come forth with a stunning admission – for years he served as an Israeli spy, buying arms on its behalf and boosting its alleged nuclear program.
In a far-reaching interview aired Monday with Israel’s Channel 2 TV’s flagship investigative program “Uvda,” Milchan detailed a series of clandestine affairs in which he was involved and particularly how he helped purchase technologies Israel allegedly needed to operate nuclear bombs.
“I did it for my country and I’m proud of it,” said Milchan, who ran a successful fertilizer company in Israel before making it big in Hollywood.
Even there, he says he continued with his clandestine work while maintaining close ties with Israel’s leadership.
According to an unauthorized biography published two years ago, Milchan worked for Israel’s now-defunct Bureau of Scientific Relations, known as Lekem, which worked to obtain information for secret defense programs. The bureau was disbanded in 1987 after it was implicated in the spying affair for which Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, was sentenced to life in prison.
Milchan also says other big Hollywood names were connected to his covert affairs.
“When I came to Hollywood I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted – filmmaking,” he said. “(But) sometimes it gets mixed up.”
The 68-year-old Milchan founded the New Regency film company and has produced more than 120 movies since the 1970s, working closely with directors such as Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Sergio Leone and Oliver Stone.
He forged an especially close relationship with Robert De Niro, who along with actors Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, is featured in the “Uvda” broadcast.
“I had heard but I wasn’t sure,” De Niro said, of Milchan’s activities. “I did ask him once and he told me that he was an Israeli and of course he would do these things for his country.”
They may be at early stages of their career, but young Israeli directors Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales have likely fulfilled the ultimate fantasy of every filmmaker.
It happened just two days ago when acclaimed American director Quentin Tarantino arrived at a screening of their film “Big Bad Wolves,” grabbed the microphone and declared it “the best film of the year.”
The surprise took place Friday at the 18th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, where Papushado and Keshales arrived to promote their film which was released in Israel a month and a half ago.
“Big Bad Wolves,” a comic thriller starring Lior Ashkenazi and Tzahi Grad, tells the story of a bereaved father out for revenge against a man suspected of murdering his little girl.
Papushado and Keshales have said in every possible interview that Tarantino is one of their greatest inspirations. The American director is famous for violent and pounding films like “Pulp Fiction, “Kill Bill,” “Reservoir Dogs” and “Inglourious Basterds.”
“There was a rumor that Tarantino was at the festival, but no one dreams of him arriving to watch your movie of all films,” Papushado told Yedioth Ahronoth on Saturday. “But then I was told that he had received a warm recommendation about the film, and I was asked if he could come to see it.
“At the end of the screening, he approached the microphone as if he were a regular viewer and launched a series of praises.”
After the screening, Tarantino asked to talk to the shocked Papushado. “He promised to support and promote the film in every way possible when it hits the screens in the United States,” the Israeli filmmaker recounted.
“It feels like I’m an Elvis fan, and Elvis comes over and says to me, “Hey, you sing pretty well too,” Keshales added. “I have been in seventh heaven for two days now.”
United by the small screen, Israelis and Palestinians transcended their divisions this week when “Under the Same Sun,” a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was broadcast simultaneously on Wednesday on Israel’s Channel 2 and the Palestinian Ma’an television stations.
The film, which was produced by an Israeli and directed by a Palestinian, was shot in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem and stars actors from both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Production credit is shared by Amir Harel, and Israeli who worked on the Academy Award-nominated “Paradise Now,” which depicts the preparations of a pair of Palestinian suicide bombers; and Search for Common Ground, an American non-governmental organization that does conflict resolution work.
Set in the near future, it focuses on how two business leaders cope with the unique political and personal challenges posed by operating in societies where there is a strong stigma against working with the “other side.”
Harel commented that he sees the film as a mirror of reality.
“A small part of it is our projection of the possible future. It’s more like a wish that reality would resemble in a way,” he said.
“It’s a fictional story but the underlying issues are real,” Sharon Rosen, co-director of the Jerusalem office of Search for Common Ground, told The Media Line. “We wanted to be able to convey the underlying, the intangibles; to build hope that something like this could happen.”
Leading actor Ali Saliman told The Media Line that he enjoyed working with his Israeli counterpart, adding, “We had never worked together but it felt natural.”