|Born||April 4, 1953|
Petah Tikva, Israel
|Education||B.A., McGill University|
M.A., University of Toronto
|Occupation||Film director, producer, journalist, writer|
He earned a B.A. in philosophy and political science (with honors) from McGill University and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Toronto. From 2015 to 2018 he was an adjunct professor of religious studies at Huntington University, Greater Sudbury, Ontario. He is married and the father of five children.
Jacobovici is a three-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. His filmmaking awards include a Certificate of Special Merit from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Gold Medal from the International Documentary Festival of Nyon, two US CableACE Awards, a Royal Television Society Award, two Gemini awards, an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award, two Gold Dolphins from the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, a Jack R. Howard Award from the Scripps Howard Awards for In-Depth National and International Coverage, the Norman Bethune Award from the Canadian Medical Association for Excellence in International Health Reporting and, from the Overseas Press Club of America, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Carl Spielvogel Award.
As an early advocate of airlifting Ethiopian Jews to Israel, he wrote an op-ed piece on the subject for New York Times and made his first documentary, Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983). The Economist credited Jacobovici's documentary as one of the factors leading to the 1984-85 Israeli airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
Jacobovici's film on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Deadly Currents (1991), won the Genie Award for Best Documentary, a gold medal at the International Documentary Festival of Nyon, and was the runner-up for the Peace Prize at the 1991 Berlin Film Festival and was the only documentary screened in both Israeli army bases and Palestinian Refugee Camps.
Working with Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, in 2020 Jacobovici completed the 6 part series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (CBC, Epix, BBC, Fremantle). Enslaved is the most comprehensive television series ever made on the subject. It tells the epic and tragic story using a modern day quest for sunken slave ships as the springboard to the larger narrative.
Enslaved is being broadcast in 142 countries garnering record ratings and outstanding reviews. Enslaved has already been nominated for two NAACP Image Awards and 7 Canadian Screen Awards. It won a “Buzzie” for Best Historical Series at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers. It was also honored for Outstanding Achievement by the Impact Doc Awards and was named Best Documentary at the International Filmmaker Festival in London. As part of their anti-racism campaign, Enslaved has been screened in the United Nations and the European Parliament. Paris Match has called Enslaved “One small step for man…One giant leap for civil rights!”
Several of Jacobovici's films have sparked controversies. The 1994 film, The Plague Monkeys resulted in the closure of a level 4 lab in Toronto, Canada. James, Brother of Jesus highlighted an ossuary in the private collection of an Israeli antiquities collector, Oded Golan. Golan was accused of forging part of the inscription on a 2,000-year-old bone box/ossuary. Jacobovici and the late Hershel Shanks (founding editor of Biblical Archaeology Review), stood by their story. In 2012, after 7 years in an Israeli court, Golan was exonerated. The claims made in The Lost Tomb of Jesus have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of scholars.
Over the past decades, Jacobovici has engaged in what he calls "investigative archaeology". His most controversial claim is the identification of a tomb in Jerusalem as that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family in the Talpiot Tomb. Such identification has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of scholars
In 2012, Jacobovici investigated a Second Temple-era burial cave in Armon Hanatziv with a camera mounted on a robotic arm. Along with Professor James Tabor, he claimed that the 2,000 year old cave may be the burial site of disciples of Jesus. Such identification has also been rejected by the scholar consensus.
Jacobovici hosted three seasons of The Naked Archaeologist on VisionTV in Canada and The History Channel in the United States. In 2013, the series began to be broadcast on the Israel Broadcast Authority (IBA) Channel 1. The series can be streamed on Amazon and YouTube.
Jacobovici has written analysis pieces for The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. At times, he blogs on SimchaJTV, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post. He occasionally writes for The Jerusalem Post.
- Jacobovici, Simcha; Pellegrino, Charles (March 2007). The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-125299-0.
- Jacobovici, Simcha; Tabor, James D. (January 2012). The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-5040-2.
- Jacobovici, Simcha; Wilson, Barrie (November 2014). The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene. New York: Pegasus. ISBN 978-1605986104.
- Jacobovici, Simcha; Kingsley, Sean. Currently working on a book about the Transatlantic Slave Trade. To be published by Pegasus in 2022.
Jacobovici is also the co-author of two e-books; "Michelangelo's Angels and Demons" and "The James Revelation", published by Zoomerbooks, as a companion to his television series "Biblical Conspiracies".
- Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews (1983)
- Deadly Currents (1991)
- Bones of Contention (1993)
- Expulsion and Memory: Descendants of the Hidden Jews (1996)
- Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies & the American Dream (1997)
- Quest for the Lost Tribes (1998)
- The Struma (2001)
- James, Brother of Jesus (2003)
- The Exodus Decoded (2005)
- The Naked Archaeologist (2006–2010)
- Charging the Rhino (2007)
- The Lost Tomb of Jesus (2007)
- Secrets of Christianity/Decoding the Ancients (2010)
- The Jesus Discovery/The Resurrection Tomb Mystery (2012)
- Bride of God (Science Channel/VisionTV, 2014)
- Atlantis Rising (National Geographic/Discovery, 2017)
- Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Epix, CBC, Fremantle, 2020)
- AIDS in Africa (1990)
- Bones of Contention (1993)
- The Plague Monkeys (1994)
- Ebola: Inside an Outbreak/The Plague Fighters (1996)
- The Selling of Innocents (1996)
- Jesus in Russia: An American Holy War (1996)
- Frozen Hearts (1999)
- Pandemic: Case of the Killer Flu (1999)
- Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour (2000)
- Tell It Like It Is (2003/04)
- Impact of Terror (2004)
- Sex Slaves/The Real Sex Traffic (2005)
- Yummy Mummy (2005)
- Living in the Time of Jesus (2010)
- Tales from the Organ Trade (2013)
- The Good Nazi (2019)
- Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2020)
- World Congress of Science & Factual Producers Buzzie, Best History Program – Long Format, 2020
- Impact DOCS Award, Outstanding Achievement/Award of Excellence: Documentary Feature/Award of Excellence: Cinematography/Award of Excellence: History, Biographical, 2020
- NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Documentary, Television, Nomination, 2020
- NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Directing in a Documentary, Television or Motion Picture, 2020
- London International Filmmakers Festival, Best Feature Documentary, 2020
- Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Gordon Sinclair Award, 2017
- Canadian Association of Journalists Award, Open Broadcast Feature, 2015
- Donald Brittain Award for Best Documentary, Canada, 2015, 1997
- Edward R. Murrow Award, Overseas Press Club of America, 2014, 2007, 2006
- Jack R. Howard Award for Television/Cable In-Depth National and International Coverage, USA, 2014
- Norman Bethune Award, Excellence in International Health Reporting, Canadian Medical Association Media Awards, 2014
- Gold Award, WorldMedia Festival, Hamburg, Germany 2014
- Gold Dolphin, Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, France, 2014, 2013
- Raven Award, Best Feature Documentary, USA 2013
- Special Jury Prize, Nevada International Film Festival, USA, 2013
- Best Documentary, Tenerife International Film Festival, Canary Islands, 2013
- Banff Rockie Award, Best Social and Humanitarian Program, Canada, 2013
- Gold WorldMedal, Most Innovative Production, New York Festivals, USA, 2013
- International Golden Panda Nomination, Sichuan TV Festival, China, 2013, 2012
- CINE Golden Eagle Award, USA, 2011, 2010
- Wilbur Award for Best Documentary, USA, 2010, 2007
- Special Jury Prize, Brussels Archaeological Film Festival, 2009
- Gemini, Best Host, Canada, Nomination, 2007
- Emmy Award, Outstanding Investigative Journalism, USA, 2007, 1997, 1995
- British Broadcast Award, Best Documentary Programme, U.K., 2006
- Royal Television Society Award, U.K., 2006
- BAFTA, Best Single Documentary, U.K., Nomination, 2006
- Bulldog Award for Best Documentary, Televisual Magazine, U.K., 2006
- Grand Award, Best of the Festival, Best News Program, New York Film Festivals, 2006
- Gold Special Jury Award, Worldfest-Houston, 2005
- Carl Spielvogel Award, Overseas Press Club, New York, USA, 2005, 2004
- Best Documentary, Portland International Film Festival, USA, 2002
- Best Science/Technology/Environment Documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada, 2000
- Best Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival, 1998
- Best History Documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada, 1998
- Best Writing, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada, 1998
- Silver Nymph, Monte Carlo Television Festival, 1997
- Gemini Award, Best Science Award, Canada, 1997
- Gold Plaque, Chicago International Television Awards, 1997
- Best Social Documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada, 1997
- Alfred I. Dupont Award, Columbia University, 1997
- Best Science/Technology/Environment Documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, 1997
- Best Science, Technology, Nature/Environment Documentary, Gemini Awards, 1997
- Cable Ace Award, National Academy of Cable Programming, USA, 1997, 1995, 1992
- Freddie Award, American Medical Association, 1997
- President’s Award, Awards of Excellence in Educational Programming, 1996
- Golden Sheaf Award, Yorkton Film Festival, 1996
- Grand Prize, Visions du Reel, Nyon, 1992
- Best Feature Length Documentary, Genie Awards, Canada, 1992
- Gold Hugo, Documentary Feature Film, USA, 1992
- Gold Hugo, Best Social/Political Documentary, USA, 1990
- Certificate of Special Merit, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1985
- Best Film, HemisFilm Festival, San Antonio, Texas, USA, 1985
Selected documentaries and television programs
Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews
In the 1983 documentary Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews, Jacobovici tells the story of Ethiopian Jews, also called Falasha (strangers) and properly known as Beta Israel. According to the documentary, the group was conquered by neighbouring tribes in the 17th century and suffered persecution.
Expulsion & Memory: Descendants of the Hidden Jews
In the 1996 documentary, Jacobovici studies the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico and tiny populations of Jewish descendants in Spain and Portugal, known as nuevos Cristianos ("new Christians"). He explores the Jewish ancestry of the New Mexican Hispanic families now living in New Mexico and finds that many of them have always been aware of their Jewish heritage.
The 2002 documentary, directed by Jacobovici, tells the story of MV Struma, a small ship chartered to carry Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to Mandatory Palestine during World War II. Ten people were let off the ship in Istanbul, including a woman who had just had a miscarriage, and one man who was the representative of the Mobil Oil Company in Romania and was helped by Mobil's representative in Turkey, Vehbi Koc. Koc asked the favour of the Istanbul Chief of Police, Sabri Caglayangil, who later became a Minister of the Interior. On February 23, 1942, with her engine inoperable and her refugee passengers aboard, Turkish authorities towed Struma from Istanbul Harbour through the Bosphorus back to the Black Sea, where they set her adrift without food, water or fuel. Within hours, on the morning of February 24, she was torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine Shch-213, killing at least 768 men, women and children and possibly as many as 791, 785 of whom were Jews.
The documentary won the Audience Award at the Portland International Film Festival for best documentary.
Quest for the Lost Tribes
In the 2003 wide-ranging documentary, Jacobovici goes on a worldwide search for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and states that there are actually only nine since the remnant of the tribe of Dan was confirmed to be the Beta Israel of Ethiopia. Travelling from western Europe to China and India, Jacobovici finds tantalizing evidence that the "lost tribes" are, like the tribe of Dan, not really lost. The tribe of Dan is the only original tribe of Israel not to be included in the Book of Revelation's list of tribes that are sealed. No mention is made of why it is excluded.
Impact of Terror
The 2004 documentary, produced by Jacobovici and directed by Tim Wolochatiuk, is about Israeli victims of terrorism struggling to cope in the aftermath of the August 2001 Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The Exodus Decoded
The Exodus Decoded, a 2006 History Channel documentary, was created by Jacobovici and the producer/director James Cameron. It explores evidence for the biblical account of the Exodus. Its claims and methods were widely criticized by Biblical scholars and by mainstream scientists.
Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose I, and that it coincided with the Minoan eruption. In the documentary, the biblical plagues of Egypt are explained as having resulted from that eruption and a related limnic eruption in the Nile Delta. While much of Jacobovici's archaeological evidence for the Exodus comes from Egypt, some comes from Mycenae on Mainland Greece, such as a gold ornament that somewhat resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
The documentary makes extensive use of computer animation and visual effects made by Gravity Visual Effects, Inc. It runs for 90 min and was first aired in Canada on April 16 (Easter Day), 2006 (Discovery Channel Canada). It was shown in the United States on August 20, 2006 (History Channel US), UK on December 23, 2006 (Discovery Channel UK) and Spain on December 25, 2006 (Cuatro).
The Lost Tomb of Jesus
The documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus was co-produced and first broadcast on the Discovery Channel and Vision TV in Canada on March 4, 2007, covering the discovery of the Talpiot Tomb. It was directed by Jacobovici and produced by Felix Golubev and Ric Esther Bienstock, and James Cameron served as executive producer. It was released in conjunction with a book on the same subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, issued in late February 2007 and co-authored by Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino. The documentary and book's claims have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of scholars.
The Naked Archaeologist
The television show The Naked Archaeologist was produced for VisionTV in Canada and History International in the US and was hosted and prepared by Jacobovici and Avri Gilad. The show ultimately reviewed biblical stories and then tried to find proof for them by exploring the Holy Land looking for archaeological evidence, making personal inferences and deductions and interviewing scholars and experts. After its original run on VisionTV, it was picked up in the U.S. by The History Channel and its sister network, History International.
Jacobovici was involved as executive producer in the production of a documentary that was shown in March 2010 on the National Geographic Channel. He claimed that Atlantis had been found in Spain, and he said that evidence found by University of Hartford Professor Richard Freund included the unearthed emblem of Atlantis and that "Tarshish is Atlantis itself".
In 2016, Jacobovici directed a documentary on Atlantis for National Geographic Channel; its executive producer was James Cameron. Shot in several places in the Mediterranean (Greece, Sardinia, Malta, Santorini) such as in Spain (Cádiz, Huelva, Sevilla, Jaén, Ciudad Real, Badajoz and other undersea places in the Gulf of Cádiz) and the Azores. It premiered on January 29, 2017, on National Geographic Channel (US) and at National Geographic Spain as "El Resurgir de la Atlántida" on March 5, 2017.
Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (6x1 hr) documents 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the “New World”. Over 12 million Africans were sold into slavery. At least two million died en route. Led by Hollywood icon and human rights activist, Samuel L. Jackson, Enslaved tracks Diving With a Purpose (DWP), a collaborating organization of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, as they locate six sunken slave ships. These efforts serve as springboards telling the stories of the ideology, economics and politics of slavery. It’s also a story of resistance, accomplishment and hope.
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