JERUSALEM – Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land,” the bestselling book about the author’s complicated love for the land of Israel, is being made into a documentary film for HBO.
Shavit and HBO topper Richard Plepler discussed the project on Monday in Jerusalem at Keshet Media’s third annual INTV conferenece, a two-day gathering of top global television execs in Israel’s capital city.
The project will be helmed by Dan Setton, and Keshet’s Avi Nir is serving as exec producer.
Shavit is a longtime columnist for the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, and regarded as one of the most respected journalists in Israel. In his book, which raised the hackles of right-wing Jewry but which the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman declared a “must-read,” he delves into his own family’s history in Israel, painting his ancestral legacy as a patina for the story of the Jewish state.
Plepler told the audience at INTV that as soon as he read the book, he wanted it for HBO.
“When I first approached Ari I told him that I’ve waited my whole adult life to find this book… it captured both the objective truth and the emotional truth, the psychological truth of how I love Israel and ponder its challenges, and wrestle with its obvious mistakes and foibles,” he said. “And I thought, my goodness, what a privilege, to capture the essential truths of this book and to make a film that could reach millions of people not only in Israel and the U.S., but all over the world.”
INTV auds were shown a trailer of the documentary, which starts with footage of Israelis running in the streets under an air-raid siren during this summer’s war with Gaza.
Plepler said he hopes the documentary will bow in Jerusalem and encourage a greater dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
Shavit, when asked if he was concerned that his material might be lost in the translation of print to television, said that he gave Setton very few artistic constraints.
“My line was you must capture the spirit, you must speak the balance,” he said. “But the details – it’s a new medium, and I just said it must work in the new medium.”
(Pictured from left: HBO’s Richard Plepler, journalist Ilana Dayan, WME’s Rick Rosen, author Ari Shavit and columnist Avi Isaacharaof)