(photo credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)
Micha Shagrir, an influential movie producer and director, died Wednesday in Jerusalem at the age of 77, after a long illness.
Shagrir’s producing credits include the classic 1986 film by Rafi Bukai Avanti Popolo, about two Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai after the cease-fire in the Six Day War; A Matter of Size, the 2009 comedy about overweight Israelis who find their calling as Sumo wrestlers; and the 2003 drama about an Iraqi-Israeli family, The Barbecue People. He was equally if not even more influential in documentary films, and produced a number of critically acclaimed documentaries, among them the 2014 ApponiA, about an Israeli-Soviet double agent. He also produced a number of television shows, among them Bat Yam-New York and Take Away.
He was the head of Kastel Productions, and was one of the founders of the Sam Spiegel School for Film & Television, Jerusalem, where he served as the first chairman of the executive board. He was also a chairman of the Israel Film Fund. He received the Jerusalem Film Festival Life Achievement Award and the Israeli Film Academy’s Life Achievement Award.
Shagrir was born in Austria and came to Israel with his parents when he was an infant.
He served as a paratrooper and worked as a journalist before turning to filmmaking.
At an evening held in his honor last July by the Israel Film Fund, the Jerusalem Foundation and many other organizations, Renen Schorr, the founding director of the Sam Spiegel School, said, “Micha Shagrir is a true force of nature, a unique producer and storyteller re-inventing himself and adapting to an ever-changing media landscape. Micha is the major ‘chance giver’ for young film people – similar to Menahem Golan. He changed the lives of hundreds of filmmakers by enabling them to become a major part of the industry.”