(photo credit: TREVOR LEIGHTON)
Helen Mirren, the much acclaimed Oscar-winning actress, will host the prestigious Genesis Prize award ceremony in Jerusalem on June 23, it was announced on Wednesday.
The Genesis Prize is a $1 million annual prize, first awarded in 2014, and will be given this year to the renowned violinist, educator and advocate for individuals with disabilities, Itzhak Perlman.
The prize, dubbed by Time magazine as “The Jewish Nobel,” is awarded to individuals who have “made a significant contribution to humanity, and inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel,” according to the Genesis Prize Foundation.
Perlman has announced, as the two previous prize laureates did, that he will direct his $1 million award to philanthropic projects in the fields of music and support for individuals with special needs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present Perlman with the award.
A 16-time Grammy Award winning violinist, Perlman has been recognized numerous times for his contributions to music and humanity, having been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Barak Obama last year, as well as being the recipient of other such commendations.
“I am honored and humbled to have been asked to host the 2016 Genesis Prize award ceremony honoring the extraordinary musician, educator, and activist for the disabled, Itzhak Perlman,” said Dame Helen Mirren.
“Through my first visit to Israel in 1967, I came to love and admire the country and its people, and I continue to be inspired by the creative spark Israelis bring to all forms of art, including film and music. My connection to Israel and the Jewish people has truly been a part of making me what I am today, and I am very excited to be returning to this great country.”
Mirren has visited Israel on several occasions; the first time in 1967 when she worked at Kibbutz Ha’on in the Galilee, and has often spoken out in support of the Jewish state, most recently at the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles in October 2015 when she criticized cultural boycotts of Israel.
In addition to participating as host of the Genesis Prize award ceremony, Dame Mirren will be a featured guest at a program at the Jerusalem Cinemateque, where she will speak about her craft. The Cinemateque will also run a retrospective of Mirren’s films during the week of June 20th.
“We are honored that Dame Helen Mirren, an actress of such talent and accomplishment, will host the 2016 Genesis Prize ceremony and help us celebrate the extraordinary life and achievements of Itzhak Perlman,” said co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets. “Dame Mirren has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, and we look forward to the elegance and grace she will bring to the ceremony.”