Magazine article Variety

Cedar Stirs Israeli Pride with Gere Starring in 'Norman'

Magazine article Variety

Cedar Stirs Israeli Pride with Gere Starring in 'Norman'

Article excerpt

BIZ MATURES

JOSEPH CEDAR, the New Yorkborn, Israel-raised golden boy of the cinema of the modern Jewish state, bursts firmly onto the international scene this festival season with "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer," his new Richard Gere-toplined feature.

The film has its international premiere Monday in Toronto as a Gala Presentation after its world preem at the recent Telluride Film Festival.

It's the first English-language film for the Israeli writer and helmer, and his first time working with international star power after decades directing Israel's biggest names. Pic, set in both Jerusalem and New York, created a flurry of excitement and media headlines last year when its production set up shop in the nation's capital.

Cedar has sat atop the Israeli cinematic pack since the release of his stirring 2007 "Beaufort," the Oscar-nominated drama about an Israeli Defense Force unit stationed upon a remote mountaintop during this country's conflict with south Lebanon. Four years later, he further raised the bar with "Footnote," an only-in-Jerusalem spin on a classic family competition story, probing the disturbing rivalry between a pair of father and son Talmudic scholars at Israel's Hebrew University.

"Footnote" earned Cedar a second Oscar nod and secured his position as one of the great Israeli filmmakers of his generation. But with "Norman," which was snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics earlier this month, he has, in the eyes of Israelis, truly made his country proud.

"Israeli cinema continues to flourish at the most important festivals in North America," gushed a headline in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot in describing the Telluride bow of both Cedar's film and "Through the Wall," the sophomore effort of Orthodox helmer Rama Burshtein.

Meanwhile Mako, a popular web portal here, made sure to note, while covering the Sony Pictures deal, that Cedar had earned a sum "unprecedented" for Israeli filmmakers. …

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