The official poster for the film 'Foxtrot,' which garnered rave reviews worldwide but sparked controversy in Israel. .
(photo credit: PR)
President Reuven Rivlin is looking forward to Foxtrot – not the dance, but the controversial Israeli film that just won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
The film was condemned as anti-Israeli by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, but Rivlin on Sunday told a visiting delegation of Hollywood producers and studio executives that he intended to see the film. Aware of Regev’s putdown, before she’d even seen the film herself, Rivlin said he didn’t know if he would like the film, but he makes a point of trying to see every Israeli film, “because I’m a great fan.”
He made the remark in response to a question as to whether he had yet seen the film.
The delegation, was led by Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and Israel’s Consul-General to Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg, a former director of the World Jewish Congress's Jerusalem office.
The delegation included Daniel Grover, co-head of business affairs at CAA; John Landgraf, general manager of FX Network; Christophe Riandee, vice CEO of Gaumont International Television; Doug Herzog, former president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group; Michael Rotenberg, co-founder and partner at 3 Arts Entertainment; academy award nominee director and writer Richard Lagravanese, who was nominated for writing the screenplay for The Fisher King
; and writer and director Gary Alazraki.
Rivlin spoke to them about the history of television and film in Israel, and as is his custom, delved into his childhood in Jerusalem in the pre-television era when movies and the radio were the most popular form of entertainment.
He also recalled the introduction of television here in 1968, and was proud of the great breakthroughs Israelis were and are making in the industry, even though television in this country used to import American television programs and draw inspiration from the US for Israeli productions.
“For many years we have been watching your shows, and now you are also watching Israeli shows,” said Rivlin, quipping “We even have Israeli superheroes.”
Berkowitz noted the growing cooperation between the Israeli entertainment industry and Hollywood, but beyond that he was interested in getting Rivlin’s take on the future for Israel and the region. Rivlin emphasized the importance of building understanding between all the different communities in Israel.
“We have to face reality,” he said. “We are living together here, and must stop feeling that we are doomed to live together and understand that it is our destiny to live together.”
As for the delegation, Rivlin stressed the great responsibility its members held in their ability to shape public opinion around the globe. He urged them to become partners in building understanding and mutual respect between all peoples.