Israel Film Festival Honoree Helen Mirren: ‘The Great Thing That Israel Has Is Israelis’

Upon being honored at the 29th Israel Film Festival with the Career Achievement Award Wednesday at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Helen Mirren recalled her first time visiting the country and said it changed her career.

“I was thinking about the building blocks that lead you to becoming the person you will become,” Mirren said. “I was thinking that my visit to Israel in those days was a part, not a direct connection, but it’s absolutely a part of the building blocks that have made me the actress I am and doing the kind of work that I do.”

Mirren also spoke on the building blocks that make up Israel.

“These building blocks make personal lives and also these building blocks make countries,” Mirren said. “I love Israel, I think it is a great, great country. I think through all the difficulties and all the pains that Israel has suffered and will in the future, the great thing that Israel has is Israelis. They will guide you through.”

Aaron Sorkin was honored with the IFF Achievement in Film & Television Award. The writer talked about the difficulty to get a movie made in the Middle East but his desire to see more.

“My friends who are screenwriters tell me that successfully pitching a movie that takes place in the Middle East is somewhere between very difficult and impossible,” Sorkin said. “The reaction from the studio is usually ‘that’s a good story, but who right now wants to see a movie set in that part of the world?’ I do, I want to see a lot of them.”

The film festival also honored Sharon Nazarian with the IFF Humanitarian Award.

The 29th Israel Film Festival kicked off with the U.S. premiere of “Baba Joon” and runs through Nov. 19.

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