Israeli Director’s Star-Studded English-Language Debut Premieres in Toronto


The highly-successful Israeli director Joseph Cedar received a standing ovation at the premiere of his first English-language film, entitled “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, according to the organizers. The film, Cedar’s first since 2011’s Oscar-shortlisted “Footnote”, tells the story of a fictitious New York “fixer” who forms a bond with a low-ranked Israeli minister, who soon after becomes Prime Minister.

The film, which has scenes set (and filmed) in New York, counts a raft of highly-celebrated stars from around the world in its cast. Richard Gere plays the lead as Norman Oppenheimer alongside fellow Americans and New Yorkers including Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Boardwalk Empire) and Hank Azaria (Godzilla, The Simpsons). Other stars include British actors Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), and Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi (Footnote, Walk on Water). Joseph Cedar, who wrote and directed the film, is also an established name, with both of his previous films, 2007’s “Beaufort” and 2011’s “Footnote,” shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

There is no trailer yet for the film (although movie database IMDB does have a preview clip) which, according to Times of Israel, is due to be released in North America and Israel in early 2017.

When asked by Israeli Channel 2 News whether the film is based on the real-life story of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently serving a 19-month sentence for corruption-related offences, in part relating to his relationship with New York businessman Morris Talansky, Ashkenazi said merely that the story is about “friendship” and “someone looking for recognition.”

Among the people attending the preview were Cedar’s parents. His father, Howard Cedar, is a noted biochemist and Israel Prize recipient who last week won the prestigious Horwitz Prize, seen as a precursor to the Nobel.