WJFF VISIONARY AWARD PRESENTATION
Sunday, March 2, 3:00 pm
The annual WJFF Visionary Award recognizes and pays tribute to courage, creativity and insight in presenting the full diversity of the Jewish experience through the moving image.
For the 24th Festival, we are honoring Israeli filmmaking pioneer Avi Nesher, an accomplished producer, director, screenwriter and actor. Nesher was born in Israel but spent much of his adolescence in New York, before leaving Columbia University at 18 to serve in the Special Forces branch of the Israeli army. This experience clearly informed his first film, The Troupe which prodded the Israeli establishment by ridiculing the “sacred cow” Israeli military; the film is now considered an Israeli cult classic.
Producer Dino De Laurentis convinced Nesher to come to Hollywood after seeing his critically acclaimed Rage and Glory. Nesher’s initial work came as a writer, penning studio assignments for such filmmakers as Ron Howard and James Cameron. As part of this “Hollywood period”, Nesher wrote, produced and directed The Taxman which 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 2001, Nesher honored his father’s memory by writing and directing Turn Left at the End of the World – a surreal deconstruction of Israel’s immigration mythology. The movie became Israel’s greatest box office success in the last twenty years, as well as becoming one of the best-reviewed films of the era.
Since then, nearly all of his films have been Israeli blockbusters: The Secrets, The Matchmaker, and most recently our Opening Night film, The Wonders. Avi Nesher will accept the WJFF Visionary award after a retrospective screening of Turn Left at the End of the World, and will also be on hand for the late-night showing of The Taxman, and to present the screenings of The Wonders.
Turn Left at the End of the World
In one of WJFF Visionary Award winner Avi Nesher’s most beloved films, a few Indian families descend on a small Israeli desert town, mostly inhabited by Moroccan immigrants. A culture war ensues: the Morrocans look down on the dark-skinned Indians, while the Indians consider the Moroccans a bunch of uncouth troublemakers.
Eventually the two sides grudgingly come together over an unlikely cricket team they decide to field, and much hilarity follows. In the process, old enemies cross cultural mine fields and two teenage girls, a Moroccan and an Indian, discover the sexual revolution of the Sixties.
Avi Nesher will accept the WJFF Visionary award before a retrospective screening of Turn Left at the End of the World, and will also be on hand for the late-night showing of The Taxman, and to present the screenings of The Wonders.