Renen Schorr (born Jerusalem, Israel, 1952) is a film director, screenwriter, film producer. In 1989, he became head of Israel’s first independent, national school for film and television. He then founded the Sam Spiegel Film & TV School – Jerusalem, and has served as its director since that time.
Son of a physician, Prof. Sam Schorr, grandson of historian Dr. Alexander Schorr, descendent of Rabbi Joseph Bechor Schorr, a 12th-century Talmudic commentator from Orléans, France. Sixth generation Israeli on the side of his mother, Lea Heller, the daughter of Rabbi Avraham Zeide Heller of Safed. Second cousin once removed of filmmaker Arnon Z. Shorr.
Schorr, who grew up in Tel Aviv, was attracted to the theater from a young age. He played the role of Artful Dodger in Habima's national production of Oliver! and the Crown Prince in Giora Godick's troupe production of The King and I. During his army years he served as a military combat correspondent for the army's weekly Bamahane. In 1974 he was nominated for the Sokolov Journalism Prize – for a series of articles about battles for the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War.
Schorr studied filmmaking at Tel Aviv University and worked as an assistant to the prolific director Uri Zohar. In 1979, with a grant from the Israel-America Cultural Foundation, he apprenticed in the U.S. as assistant director/observer to directors John Cassavetes and Paul Mazursky and worked in Los Angeles with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Steve Shagan.
Renen's main movie as a director, Late Summer Blues (1987), won the Silver Menorah award – for best film, best screenplay and best original score, as well as the prize for outstanding film in the Israel Film Festivals in New York and Los Angeles. The film opened the Jerusalem Film Festival in 1987 to rave reviews and became a commercial success as well. It was screened in 30 international festivals including, Montreal, Moscow, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Vienna, Dublin, Hong Kong. The film was released in the USA and Canada. Over the years, the movie has become a cultural icon, a kind of Israeli Hair.
Late Summer Blues, set in Tel Aviv during the summer of 1970 and based upon Schorr's own personal experiences, was written by Doron Nesher. It follows a group of seven high school seniors through the last weeks before being recruited into the IDF. The characters explore their own identities and deliberate as individuals and a group about army duty and pacifism. The film was written over a seven-year period from 1978-85. The controversial nature of the film resulted in its total rejection for funding from both public and private sources. Schorr managed to overcome all odds by nevertheless producing the film on an extremely low budget. To this day, the film has had an influence upon how young Israelis perceive the draft and the Establishment.
As a screenwriter and script editor, Schorr wrote the screenplays for his short films, served as a script consultant to Uri Zohar, and had a part in writing the screenplays for Paratroopers (1977, directed by Judd Ne’eman). He edited the screenplay for the international award winning film Broken Wings (2002, directed by Nir Bergman).
The Loners (HaBodedim), the second full-length feature film directed by Schorr, debuted in November 2009. Inspired by true events that took place in an Israeli military prison in 1997, the film explores the plight of two young Russian immigrant soldiers who are falsely accused of treason. Schorr wrote the screenplay along with Guy Meirson, Moshe Zonder, and Nir Bergman.
The Loners was nominated for 11 Israeli Academy Awards, and was named winner of the Best Actor Award (Sasha Agronov) and Best Film Award at The South Festival (Sderot). It was chosen Winner of the Best Film Award, Open Doek Festival, Belgium Festival, and participated in such festivals as its international premiere in Pusan (S. Korea), Cape Town (South Africa), Seattle (U.S.A.), Cottbus (Germany), Tirana (Albania), London Jewish (UK), Toronto Jewish (Canada), Boston Jewish (U.S.A), and IsraFest L.A., N.Y., Miami (U.S.A).
Together with the demands of his professional achievements, Schorr has taken a major role in changing and improving the Israeli cinema realm. As one of the builders of modern Israeli cinema, Schorr, together with Judd Ne’eman and Yeud Levanon, founded the Israel Film Fund in 1978. It revolutionized the industry by shifting public support from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to the Ministry of Education and Culture, an act which recognized the cultural value of a film over its mere commercial worth. In addition, the Fund gave unprecedented empowerment to the director over the producer.
From 1982–1985, Schorr served as the head of the film department at Beit Zvi, which was producing new, young directors. He forged innovative paths by teaching a concept that championed a change from the traditional filmmaking focus on "why" to the newer concept of "how."
In July 1989, Schorr was chosen to create the Jerusalem Film School, now the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Jerusalem, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Jerusalem Foundation. He remains its director to this day.
In 1992, Schorr initiated the creation of another fund, the New Fund for Film and Television, which spearheaded a revolution in independent documentary filmmaking in Israel. Schorr's actions single-handedly resulted in the flourishing of the documentary, which had previously been an uninteresting, lackluster product of public television.
On the academic front, Schorr saw to it that Israeli film schools became members of GEECT, the European union of film schools. In 2000, he was chosen by 70 of his fellow school directors to serve as president of GEECT. During his four-year term, he initiated and organized numerous conferences about European cinema, aiming to define and characterize European cinema against American films, and to advance the standing of the entrepreneurial producer. Schorr worked with the European Film Academy under the presidency of German director Wim Wenders and championed the inclusion of Israel as a member of the Academy.
In 2001, Renen Schorr initiated and edited the prize-winning dramatic series Voices from the Heartland for the commercial TV channel. The enterprise served as a type of incubator for select young talents, graduates of various Israeli film schools. At a point where opportunities to work in the creative dramatic field were few and far between, Schorr created a supportive stage for these individuals to create their first dramatic fruits, paving the way for their entrance to the foreground of Israeli television and cinema. Voices From the Heartland went on to win six prizes in the Jerusalem Film Festival, 2001 and 2002, with most of its segments screened and winning prizes in Cannes and other major film and television festivals.
In 2008, Schorr initiated the establishment of Israel’s first municipal/regional film fund, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund. The goal: to portray the city’s vibrant, unparalleled daily life—and transform its heavy governmental, stereotypical image—by stimulating the production of full-length films and television series on location in Jerusalem. Among the first films cultivated by the Fund is the award-winning “My Intimate Grammar,” directed by Nir Bergman and based on the novel by David Grossman. Renen Schorr serves as head of the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund’s board of directors.
At the Sam Spiegel School, Schorr built a film community supportive of its students and graduates, "the solidarity of the individuals", as he termed it. He experimented with a worldview that aimed to juxtapose the "how" with the "what" via educational and directorial methods which changed the face of the Israeli short film. The school has become recognized as one of the leading film schools in the world, winning over 290 international prizes, among them 15 awards as the World's Best School, as well as recognition at over 160 international festivals, museums and film schools in 49 countries. Retrospective tributes to the school include the New York Museum of Modern Art (1996), Rotterdam (1997), Havana (1999), Berlin (2004), Melbourne (2004), the Hamptons (2005), and Jerusalem (2005).
In November 2009, the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School-Jerusalem celebrated its 20th anniversary. Among the special events to mark the milestone was the launch of the “Great Masters’ Visit” program, whose first guest artist was renowned director Wim Wenders. Later that year the school initiated the first Sam Spiegel Conference in Jerusalem, “A Vision for The Israeli Cinema.” Thirty key figures from the film world (including filmmakers, film scholars, and academics) revealed their vision for the Israeli cinema in the coming decade, creating a heated debate that will long be remembered in the annals of the nation’s cinema realm.
- Off the Air (Yeud Levanon, 1981)
- Late Summer Blues (1987)
- Blacks to the Promised Land (Madeleine Ali, 1992)
- Miss Entebbe (Omri Levy, 2003)
- James' Journey to Jerusalem (Ra'anan Alexandrovitch, 2003)
- Voices from the Heartland - dramatic series (2001, 2002)
- After Duty (1977) (short film)
- The Battle of Fort Williams (1981) (short film)
- Wedding in Jerusalem (1985) (short film)
- Late Summer Blues (1987)
- HaBodedim (2009)
- Mike Leigh cancels Israel visit over loyalty oath bill - Ben Child - guardian.co.uk
- "Renen Schorr", Retrieved on 27 May 2013.
- "Late-Summer-Blues", Retrieved on 2013 May 27.
- Renen Schorr at the Internet Movie Database
- The Sam Spiegel School Film and Television, Jerusalem
- "Lonely Soldiers"- An interview with Renen Schorr, Jerusalem Post, 7/1/2010
- Renen Schorr Are You Pleased With The Sam Spiegel School's Accomplishments- Haaretz