Moriah Films

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Moriah Films
Private
IndustryFilm Industry
Founded1980; 41 years ago (1980)
FounderRabbi Marvin Hier
HeadquartersLos Angeles,
USA
Key people
  • Rabbi Marvin Hier
  • Arnold Schwartzman
  • Richard Trank
ParentSimon Wiesenthal Center
Websitemoriahfilms.com

Moriah Films is the Jack and Pearl Resnick Film Division[1] of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. It was created to produce theatrical documentaries to educate both national and international audiences, with a focus on the Jewish experience, the Holocaust, the history of ISrael as well as contemporary human rights and ethical issues. Moriah has produced sixteen documentary films. Two of films produced by the division, Genocide and The Long Way Home have won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Moriah Films has worked with numerous actors to narrate their productions among them Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Douglas, Sir Ben Kingsley, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Costner, Brooke Shields, Anne Bancroft, Martin Landau, Richard Dreyfuss, Sean Astin, Michael York, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, and George Clooney.

Moriah’s films have been screened theatrically and broadcast on HBO, Showtime, Starz/Encore, Channel 4 in the UK, ORF in Austria, RAI in Italy, as well as on German, French, Russian, Chinese, and Israeli television outlets. The films have also been streamed on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, GooglePlay and on VOD platforms around the world.

Moriah's newest film, Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres was acquired by Netflix and is set to be released in late 2020/early 2021 as a Netflix Original Documentary.[2]

Films

Genocide

In 1981, Moriah Films released its first documentary, Genocide[3]. The film's original material was written by British historian and official biographer of Winston Churchill Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Marvin Hier, one of the film's producers, with a screenplay written by Arnold Schwartzman, who also directed. It's original score was composed by Elmer Bernstein. Narrated by Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor, Genocide won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the first feature documentary about the Holocaust to win the award.

Echoes that remain

In 1991, Moriah released its second feature Echoes That Remain, a documentary focused on Eastern European Jewry prior to the events of the Holocaust. Original material was written by Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Marvin Hier, one of the film's producers, with a screenplay by Arnold Schwartzman, who also directed. Narrated by Martin Landau and Miriam Margolyes, with an original score written and conducted by Carl Davis, the film won the 1992 Houston International Film Festival's Gold Special Jury Award[4]. Photos taken by the famed photographer of Eastern European Jewry Roman Vishniac appear throughout the film along with new footage shot by the filmmakers in the sites of former Jewish communities.

Liberation

In 1995, Moriah Films’ third production Liberation had its premiere at the 1995 Berlinale, where it was a selection of that festival’s Panorama section. Liberation covers the Allied forces and their campaign to liberate Europe starting on D-Day in June 1944 and ending in May 1945 on VE Day. The film also examines how the Allies liberated Hitler’s death camps during this same period. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart, and Whoopi Goldberg, Liberation was directed by Arnold Schwartzman, who wrote the screenplay, based on original material written by Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Marvin Hier (who also produced). The film’s Executive Producer was Richard Trank.

The long way home

The Long Way Home was Moriah Films’ fourth film. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1998. Written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, it was produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank. It had its premiere at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival where it was a selection for the Documentary Competition. The film also won the Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival that year and won the Best Documentary award at the 1997 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The Long Way Home tells the story of the Jewish refugees in Europe after World War Two and the liberation of the death camps. It also shows how emigration to the British Mandate of Palestine became a goal for many of these Displaced Persons with many attempting to circumvent British immigration rules that limited the number of Jewish immigrants allowed into the country. The eventual formation of the State of Israel is examined along with the debates surrounding it in the United States, the UK and the United Nations.

The Long Way Home is narrated by Morgan Freeman, features the voices of Edward Asner, Sean Astin, Martin Landau, Miriam Margolyes, David Paymer, Nina Siemaszko, Helen Slater, and Michael York. It features an original score composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

In search of peace

In 2001, Moriah released In Search of Peace, Part One. The documentary examines Israel’s first two decades and is based on original material written by Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Marvin Hier with a screenplay written by Richard Trank, who also directed.

Narrated by Michael Douglas, and featuring the voices of Edward Asner, Anne Bancroft, Richard Dreyfus, and Michael York, In Search of Peace features a score composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge and performed by the Philharmonia of London. Israeli pop star David Broza performs his song “Yiye Tov” (“It Will Be Good”) with the orchestra and a children’s choir.

Unlikely heroes

In 2004, Moriah released its sixth film, Unlikely Heroes, which chronicled seven different stories of resistance during the Holocaust. Based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank, its screenplay was written by Trank who also directed. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, Unlikely Heroes had its premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2004.

Beautiful music

In 2005, Moriah released its first documentary short, Beautiful Music, about the relationship between an Orthodox Jewish piano teacher and her blind, autistic Palestinian musical savant student. Teacher and student live in neighboring communities outside of Jerusalem.

Written and directed by Richard Trank, the film was produced by Trank and Rabbi Marvin Hier Narrated by Brooke Shields, Beautiful Music had its premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival in 2007 where it won Best Documentary. An original score was composed by Lee Holdridge.

Ever again

In 2006, Moriah released Ever Again, a documentary that examined the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. The screenplay was written by Richard Trank, based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Trank, who also directed. The film was narrated by Kevin Costner. An original score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

I have never forgotten you

In 2007, Moriah released I Have Never Forgotten You, a documentary based on the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, who became known for his pursuits as a Nazi hunter, humanitarian and writer. The film examined Wiesenthal’s life in what is now Ukraine before the war, his experiences during the Holocaust where he and his wife lost more than 80 members of their combined families and why the trained architect gave up his career to find and bring Nazi war criminals to justice.

Narrated by Nicole Kidman, it film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007 and was a selection of the Documentary Competition of the Tribeca Film Festival that same year. It was also screened and won a special mention award at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2007. Based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank, who both produced, the screenplay was written by Trank, who also directed. The original score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

Against the tide

In 2009, Moriah released its tenth feature, Against The Tide, was narrated by Dustin Hoffman. The film examined the story of Peter Bergson, a Jewish activist who fought to change restrictive US immigration laws during the Holocaust era in order to rescue the Jews of Europe, an effort which saved more than 250,000 people in the final year of the war.

Based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank, with a screenplay by Trank, the script for the film was nominated for Best Original Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. It was directed by Richard Trank and was also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny

In 2010, Moriah released Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny, narrated by Ben Kingsley. The documentary examines the 20 month period between Winston Churchill becoming Britain’s Prime Minister in May 1940 as England was fighting Germany on its own after WWII began in September 1939 and America’s entry into the war in 1941.

Based on Sir Martin Gilbert’s book “Churchill and the Jews”, the screenplay was written by Richard Trank. Trank also directed and produced along with Rabbi Marvin Hier. Featuring interviews with Winston S. Churchill (the grandson of Winston Churchill), Celia Sandys (granddaughter of Churchill), Dame Vera Lynn and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and John Lukacs, Lee Holdridge composed and conducted the film’s musical score.

It Is No Dream: the Life of Theodor Herzl

In 2012, Moriah released It Is No Dream, a film which documents the life and legacy of Theodor Herzl, considered to be the father of Modern Zionism. The film was narrated by Ben Kingsley and starred the voice of Christoph Waltz as Theodor Herzl.

Based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank, its screenplay was written by Trank who also directed. An original score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge. The film premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival’s winter program in 2012.

The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers

In 2013, Moriah released The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers, the first film in a two-part series about the history of modern day Israel based on the book, "The Prime Ministers" by Ambassador Yehuda Avner. Its screenplay was written by Richard Trank who also directed.

The film was produced by Trank and Rabbi Marvin Hier and had its debut at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film follows Ambassador Avner over the course of his career during which he worked for Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, as well as when he served as an aide to the Israeli Ambassador to the US Yitzhak Rabin in the late 1960’s.

The film features the voices of Sandra Bullock as Golda Meir, Michael Douglas as Yitzhak Rabin, Leonard Nimoy as Levi Eshkol, and Christoph Waltz as Menachem Begin. An original musical score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers

In 2015, Moriah released The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers, also based on Ambassador Yehuda Avner's book, as a follow-up film to The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers. Whereas the first film focused on the founding Prime Ministers of Israel, Soldiers and Peacemakers looked at Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres.

The film explores Avner's work with Yitzhak Rabin as a chief aide, his decision to work for Menachem Begin after Rabin’s resignation and Shimon Peres’ defeat by Begin at the polls, Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, the Camp David Accords, difficulties between President Carter and Begin and tensions between Israel and the US during the 1982 Lebanon War.

The screenplay was written by Richard Trank, who also directed and produced by Trank and Rabbi Marvin Hier. Featuring the voices of Michael Douglas as Yitzhak Rabin and Christoph Waltz as Menachem Begin, the film’s score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

Our Boys

In 2015, Moriah released its second short subject documentary Our Boys,[5] which had its premiere at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. The film is based on the kidnapping and murder by Hamas of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah in 2014. The boys’ parents are interviewed as are Howard Jacobson, winner of the Booker Prize, journalist Yossi Klein Halevi and Israeli Arab Affairs expert Ehud Yaari who discuss the issues surrounding the events which led to the 2014 Gaza war.

Our Boys features original material written by Rabbi Marvin and Richard Trank. Trank also wrote the screenplay and directed.

Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres

In 2016, Moriah began working on Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres[6], a film based on the life of Shimon Peres, Israel's 9th President and two-time Prime Minister. Nine months after production began on the film, President Peres died due to complications of a stroke and work on the film continued focusing on his legacy.

Completed in 2020, Never Stop Dreaming features interviews with several world leaders including former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and actress and director Barbra Streisand. Members of Peres’ family and associates also appear.

The film is narrated by George Clooney[7] and will be premiering in in late 2020/early 2021 as a Netflix original documentary. Based on original material written by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank, its screenplay was written by Trank who also directed. An original musical score was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge.

In the media

  

References

  1. Ravo, Nick (1999-12-14). "Pearl Resnick, 87, Philanthropist and Head of Real Estate Family". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  2. "Simon Wiesenthal Center Sues Insurer Ahead of Debut of Netflix Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  3. Maslin, Janet (1982-03-14). "'Genocide,' View of Holocaust". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  4. "Moriah Films & the Simon Wiesenthal Center into the Spotlight". International Documentary Association. 1997-09-01. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  5. "Our Boys". Atlanta Jewish Film Fesival. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  6. "Academy Award-winning director to make documentary about David Ben-Gurion". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  7. "George Clooney to Narrate Shimon Peres Documentary". Variety. Retrieved 2020-09-18.

External links

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