Open your mind!

Laura Bialis Vaknin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is currently working on a movie titled ‘Rock in the Red Zone,’ about rock musicians living under fire in Sderot

Laura Bialis Vaknin (photo credit: Courtesy)
Laura Bialis Vaknin
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Laura Bialis Vaknin
Age: 38
Profession: Filmmaker
Place of birth: Los Angeles
Current residence: Tel Aviv
■ What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My one-year-old daughter gets me out of bed in a literal sense. Philosophically I have an incredible desire to continue to create and to contribute to the understanding of Israel, our people and our world.
■ What keeps you up at night?
In our constant-information-flowing, dynamic world, it’s vital to continue to be relevant. Making films is a long process, and I have to always make sure what I am doing is still pertinent. In addition, I worry about the marketing of my films. The stories need to get to the right people so they can open minds.
■ What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?
My last movie, titled Refusenik, was on the plight of Soviet Jewry. My biggest challenge has been to find a US distributor so that the movie will land on mainstream television in America.
■ How do you celebrate your achievements?
By making the next movie!
■ If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would make sure that we are doing a better job of taking care of our citizens socially and economically. We need to provide more incentive for talented young people to stay in this country.
■ Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?
My friend’s twin sons: Avi and Yoav Schaefer. At the age of 18, they made aliya to join the IDF. Upon returning to the United States following service, Avi, a student at Brown University, was killed in a tragic car accident. He had been so inspirational in changing the dialogue about Israel on campus. Now, Yoav is carrying on with this important work in his brother’s memory. These young adults represent the embodiment of the new Zionist.
■ What would you change about Israelis if you could?
Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing.
■ iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper?
All three.
■ If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
 Living in a place with year-round sun: $200. Having your pick of beautiful beaches: $100. Delicious food from around the world: $75. Outstanding music and entertainment: $55. Gorgeous soldiers (both guys and girls!): $18. Living in the 4,000-year-old homeland of your people: Priceless.
■ What is the most serious problem facing the country?
The erasure of the middle class, as well as poverty.
■ How can it be solved?
There needs to be a serious review of the way business is conducted and how the government allocates resources. Also, there is a new group of start-up millionaires here, and we need to educate them on charitable giving.
■ In 20 years, the country will be:
Either one of the strongest countries in the world, or almost gone. There are a lot of choices to be made now in order to avoid the latter, and we are quickly running out of time.