TEL AVIV – Producer Steve Tisch has both a Super Bowl ring and an Academy Award. Now, thanks to a record-breaking philanthropic gift, he also has a film school that bears his name.
The New York Giants co-owner and “Forrest Gump” producer has made a $10 million gift to the Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television. The donation is the largest that the department has ever received and one that will elevate it to the status of a full-fledged film school, to be known as the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television.
Tisch, whose family endowed NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in the 1980s, says he was prompted to make the gift after visiting Tel Aviv last year to serve as honorary chair of the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival.
“It was a transformative experience, and I felt a real connection to the school – to the students, the professors and the program,” Tisch told Variety. “I went to Israel with high expectations, and my experience was just so positive.”
Notable graduates of the TAU Department of Film and Television include directors Ari Folman (“Waltz With Bashir”), Yaron Shani (“Ajami”) and Dror Moreh (“The Gatekeepers”), as well as screenwriters Gideon Raff (“Homeland”) and Hagai Levy (“The Affair,” “In Treatment”).
Raff called Tisch’s gift “a milestone” for Israel’s film and television industry, adding that TAU’s Department of Film and Television “provided me with the tools, knowledge and resources to tell my stories … and help me get to where I am today.”
The department is ranked among the top 15 international schools of film and television in the world, and Tisch’s gift will allow for the purchase of new equipment, boost the school’s ability to attract top faculty and offer scholarships and increase international collaborations.
Tisch said he hopes his gift will also enhance TAU’s visibility in Hollywood and increase connections between Israeli students and producers and talent abroad. Down the road, he says, he would love to co-produce an Israeli film through his own production house, Escape Artist Prods.
“If it’s the right material and the script is right, I’m very open to that,” he said. “To have an opportunity to be so involved in the education of young students in Israel and the Middle East is the icing on the cake.”