The Nesher family, including son Ari, had been together at the opening of the Haifa International Film Festival on Saturday night, where Avi Nesher’s latest film, The Other Story, had its Israeli premiere.
I had the privilege of meeting Ari on many occasions, at film festivals and premieres of his father’s movies. Even to a very casual acquaintance, Ari was an extremely kind, sensitive and brilliant teenager, poised and full of life, who showed great generosity and patience to anyone around him who was shy or ill at ease.
He had grown up around filmmakers and artists, and already as a teenager he made wonderful short films. One particular movie, Cactus, was a touching look at the relationship between two cousins, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. It was a film that showed wisdom that would have been impressive from a filmmaker of any age, but was simply extraordinary coming from someone so young. The movie can be seen on Ari Nesher’s YouTube channel.
The only time I ever saw him at a loss for words was when he met one of his idols, Quentin Tarantino, at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2016.
He played cameos in his father’s movies and had a supporting role in the popular 2016 movie, Mr. Predictable (Yeled Tov Yerushalyim) directed by Roee Florentin, in which he played the spoiled and selfish son of the hero, which was truly a stretch for him and in which he displayed real acting ability.
He was athletic and loved all kinds of sports, particularly water sports since he grew up near the beach in Tel Aviv.
His father is one of Israel’s leading directors, whose debut movie in 1978, The Troupe, is an Israeli classic, and whose latest movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Ari’s mother, Iris Nesher, is an artist, photographer and ceramicist whose beautiful photos of her husband’s films have often accompanied articles in this newspaper. Ari is also survived by his sister, Tom, also a filmmaker who recently finished her army service, as well as two grandmothers.
In Avi Nesher’s 2010 film, The Matchmaker, the title character, a Holocaust survivor who speaks broken Hebrew, asks a favor of the hero, a teenage boy who is an aspiring writer: “Whatever you write, make happy ending. People have much pain in life, much misery, so make happy ending, yes?”
The millions of viewers around the world who have enjoyed Avi Nesher’s films and who have been grateful to the director for giving them so many moments of redemption, insight, grace and happiness, will surely join Ari’s family in mourning this tragic loss.