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13 December 1953 |
Ramat Gan, Israel
|Occupation||Film Producer, Film director, screenwriter|
Avi Nesher was born and raised in Ramat Gan, Israel. The child of a Romanian-born diplomat, and a mother who came from Russia. In 1965, he moved with his family to the United States. He graduated high school at sixteen and studied international relations at Columbia University. In 1971, he returned to Israel and served in the IDF elite special forces unit Sayeret Matkal.
Avi Nesher's award winning films have played a major part in Israeli cinema's rise to prominence during the last ten years. During that period, remarkably enough, four Israeli movies were nominated for Best Foreign Picture Oscars. During that era Nesher was singled out and honored several times as one of Israel's all-time greatest filmmakers.
In 2008, Nesher received the Extraordinary Achievement Award from the Jerusalem Film Festival. In 2009 Nesher received the Cinematic Excellence Award from the Haifa Film Festival and was accorded a star on "The Avenue of the Stars" - an honor rarely bestowed on directors. In 2010 Nesher received the prestigious "Landau Award" for Excellence in the Arts.
In 2013 Nesher's latest film The Wonders received rave reviews from critics and has been a great box-office success in Israel. It was hailed by Israel's premier film critic, Yair Raveh (Cinemascope) as "The best Israeli movie of the year - A movie that delights all those who love cinema". The film premiered as an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and was selected as one of five exceptional films featured in the prestigious Contemporary World Speakers program. Variety film critic Alissa Simon hailed "The Wonders" as "Smart, stylish, and sophisticated dramedy".
In 1978, Nesher directed and produced his first film, HaLahaka (Hebrew: "הלהקה", lit. The Band), which depicted an army entertainment troupe similar to the Nahal troupe (להקת הנח"ל). The film stars many of the leading actors and singers of that era, including Gidi Gov, Gali Atari, Sassi Keshet and Heli Goldenberg, most of whom served in military entertainment troupes themselves. The film was a commercial success in Israel (600,000 viewers) and gained cult film status. The movie production, accompanied by the composer Yair Rosenblum, who was musical director of the Nahal Military Group and composed the songs the band also appear in the film.
In 1979, Nesher directed his second film, Dizengoff 99, about three young friends (Anat Atzmon, Gidi Gov and Meir Suissa) living together in a flat on Dizengoff Street, the center of nightlife in Tel Aviv. The film is based on the experiences of Nesher himself, when he lived with two friends in Tel Aviv. The soundtrack of the film included songs performed by Zvika Pick, Riki Gal, Gali Atari and various Israeli bands. It was also a hit (400,000 viewers) and achieved cult film status in Israel. In 1980 Nesher directed HaPakhdanim (Hebrew: "הפחדנים", lit. The Cowards), a moderate commercial success (120,000 viewers).
Nesher then moved to Hollywood to further his film career, directing the Israeli-American fantasy film She in 1982, about two brothers trying to save their kidnapped sister.
In 1984 Nesher wrote, directed and produced the movie Rage & Glory which tells the story of the underground Zionist group Lehi and their struggle against the British Mandate in the 1940s. The film stars Juliano Mer, Hana Azoulay-Hasfari, and Roni Finkovitz. The movie caused a political storm, was lauded by international critics and in 2001 was selected by the Lincoln Center Film Society as one of the most important films in fifty years of Israeli cinema.
After seeing Rage & Glory, producer Dino De Laurentis convinced Nesher to come to Hollywood. Consequently Nesher wrote and directed the sci-fi mystery Timebomb for MGM (produced by Rafaella De Laurentiis) and starring Michael Biehn. In 1993 he directed the sensual supernatural mystery Doppelganger for 20th Century Fox, starring Drew Barrymore. Both films won prizes at the Avoriaz Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival in France.
In 1998, Nesher's American success allowed him to produce, write and direct the independent feature The Taxman the story of tax investigator Al Benjamin (played by Joe Pantoliano) who stumbles over a series of bloody murders and gets involved in an investigation with a rookie cop. The film opened to extraordinary reviews: The New York Times called the film "A delight...a charmer of a mystery" and Jeffrey Lyons of NBC hailed it as "A cinematic gem...Not to be missed!"
In 2004, Nesher directed, produced and wrote Turn Left at the End of the World, a film about a small town in the Negev during the 1960s and the struggle of the Moroccan and Indian Jews who live there. The film starred Neta Garty, Liraz Cherki, and Ruby Porat Shoval. The movie became Israel's greatest box office success, as well as becoming one of the best reviewed films of the era. It was nominated for 8 Israeli Academy awards and won three.
In 2005, Nesher directed the highly experimental political documentary Oriental about the Camp David Accords and won the "Spirit of Freedom" award at the Jerusalem Film Festival. "Brilliant and original" raved the Jerusalem Post "Avi Nesher is clearly Israel's most innovative filmmaker".
In 2007, Nesher’s Hasodot premiered as an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival. It was hailed as “witty and wise, sensual and emotionally over powering – one of the best Israeli movies in recent years”. “The Secrets” was shown in more than 50 international film festivals. American film critic Andrew Sarris called it “one of the best movies of the year.”
In 2010 Nesher wrote, directed and produced The Matchmaker. Inspired by Amir Gutfreund’s novel When Heroes Fly, the film is set in Haifa in 1968. It tells the story of an Israeli teenager who gets a summer job working for a Holocaust survivor who runs a matchmaking service. It was hailed as the best movie of the year by several Israeli film critics. The Matchmaker premiered as an official selection at 2010 Toronto Film Festival and later that year won the Silver Plaque award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Later that year, "The Matchmaker" opened in U.S. theaters to great critical success – the Los Angeles Times film critic, Kenneth Turan hailed it as "Beautiful and honest... Pick of the week!".
Awards and recognition
In 2007, Nesher received the Cinematic Excellence Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival. In 2009, he received the Cinematic Excellence Award at the Haifa Film Festival. In 2010, he won the Landau Award for Excellence in the Arts.
- HaLahaka (literally "The Band", Hebrew, 1979)
- Dizengoff 99 (Hebrew, 1979)
- She (English, 1982)
- HaPakhdanim (literally "The Cowards", Hebrew, 1983)
- Shovrim (literally "Breaking", Hebrew, 1985)
- Rage & Glory (literally "Rage and Glory", Hebrew, 1985)
- Time Bomb (English, 1991)
- Doppelganger (English, 1993)
- Savage (English, 1996)
- The Taxman (English, 1999)
- Raw Nerve (English, 2000)
- Ritual (English, 2001)
- Sof Haolam Smola (literally "Turn Left at the End of the World", Hebrew, 2004)
- Hasodot (literally "The Secrets", Hebrew, 2007)
- Pa'am Haitty (literally "Once I Was", Hebrew, 2010)
- Plaot (Hebrew, 2013)