Israel Film Festival honors four

Dreyfuss, Kavanagh, Landau, Lerner feted

Israel Film Fest a national celebration | Films bridge Middle East dividing lines | Highlights | Film fest honors four

Richard Dreyfus
Career achievement

It’s typical Richard Dreyfuss – self-deprecating but self-assured.

“It’s a compliment, of course,” Dreyfuss says about earning his honor from the Israel Film Festival. “Young Jewish boy makes good, that’s all.”

Then, after a beat, he adds, “There are too many awards, so if all the award ceremonies were halved, each award would mean a lot more. Still, it’s nice to be recognized by your people.”

Adopting a more serious tone, the actor mentions the “award” that has meant the most to him: “I got to do something I adored doing for 55 years, and there aren’t many people who can say that.”

Ryan Kavanagh
Film achievement

For Ryan Kavanagh, founder and CEO of Relativity Media, his IFF honor has meaning for him beyond its recognition of his professional accomplishments. It resonates on a personal level, too.

“As my grandparents were Holocaust survivors, Israel has a very special place in my heart,” Kavanaugh says. “Israel has made some of the most significant contributions to our world and made great strides in filmmaking over the past 25 years.

“As Israel is our greatest ally, it is an honor and a privilege to be recognized at this prestigious festival, which has provided filmmakers with a unique and important platform.”

Jon Landau

As the producer of “Titanic” and “Avatar” — the two highest-grossing films of all time — it makes sense that Jon Landau would receive the Israel Film Festival’s visionary award But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find Landau’s “vision” is something of a birthright.

“I grew up in a family of producers,” he says, noting that some of his father Ely’s most famous films had strong Jewish themes, “The Man in the Glass Booth” and “The Chosen” especially. “So I think it’s a long-term rather than a direct connection.”

Beyond that, Landau is feeling closer than ever to the Holy Lands these days. “I made my first trip to Israel this year,” he says. “Having seen the people and gone to these places, that’s what sold me. It’s the birthplace of history.”

Avi Lerner
Lifetime achievement

If the meeting of two worlds — Israel and Hollywood — is one of the Israel Film Festival’s objectives, then Avi Lerner embodies that spirit.

An Israeli by birth, Lerner co-founded Nu Image and Millennium Films and produced some of the best-known action films of the 1980s and ’90s, many of them starring Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme. This year, Lerner produced “The Expendables,” another hit.

“Nu Image has been supporting the festival for the last 20 years,” he says. “We think it’s very important. It’s a bridge to the word, showing the good work of Israeli film. The festival is a good chance to show such pictures.”

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