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By Maxine Dovere

Come tell a story – whether it’s your story or another’s. Tell your tale grounded in personal creativity and enhanced with the most sophisticated techniques of contemporary film and television. Present it to the wide world using the most advanced skills learned at one of the world’s premier film schools. As a student at The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, open opportunity awaits.  

The Tisch School is training the next generation of Israeli – and international – filmmakers and television visionaries. At their annual gala held last month at the iconic Frank Gehry designed InterActiveCorp – IAC Building in New York City, the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (TAU) celebrated producer, philanthropist, and film school namesake Steve Tisch “for his commitment to enhancing the academic training of film and television students at the University.”

Ranked as Israel’s “leading institution of film and television studies,” the school is listed among the world’s 15 best film schools. In the spirit of Israeli entrepreneurship, it is the only film school to give student filmmakers ownership and rights to their films. Joseph Klafter, TAU president, described its program as “a rich academic grounding combined with freedom to explore and dare.”

Mr. Klafter described plans to strengthen the University’s global collaboration and his hopes that the institution’s resources can be used to help solve international problems. “Tel Aviv University’s campus is one big start up! Creative thinkers cause disruptions,” he said. “TAU is transforming original thinking to real world solutions and products.”

Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of the University’s Board, described the Tisch family tradition of philanthropy. Steve, he said “is proving Newton’s theory: the apple falls not far from the tree!”  Frenkel noted “the power of art to open new perspectives and fresh understanding…Art,” he said. “generates empathy and encourages human relations. Art,” he said “is a bridge between people, culture, and languages… a means of communications.” Noting that Tisch has been designated “an honorary doctor of TAU.” Frenkel declared “this is the best decision we have made!”

A warm, welcoming ovation greeted Tisch’s he ascended the podium. He described Tel Aviv University as having “a respect and reverence for ancient tradition and constant reinvention.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek he described the Old Testament as “the Game of Thrones with Jews.”

Tisch said film school students embrace the best aspects of the Israeli tradition: a willingness to always try something new and different.” Stories told through film and television, said the benefactor, “break down barriers, increase dialogue, and understanding. Stories entertain, educate, and empower.” Quoting Martin Scorsese, Tisch said “we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other. Cinema is the best medium to do this.” Great films are great stories that remind us of the sameness of people.”

“Film making, said honoree Tisch, “has tremendous power to enlighten, educate and entertain…I am pleased to support a university that is at the forefront of nurturing creative visionaries and supporting the aspirations of tomorrow’s great talents in the worlds of film and television.”

Tisch, a partner at Escape Artists Productions, is co-owner and chairman of the New York Football Giants. His three decade long film career has produced critically acclaimed television and film including The Burning Bed, Risky Business, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, The Taking of Pelham 123, Hope Springs, The Equalizer and multiple others. His philanthropic support of cultural, medical, and sports institutions is renowned.

The Tisch School stresses student involvement, nurturing and helping transform ideas into work that inspires. Tisch initially visited the Tel Aviv University campus in 2014  In 2014, Tisch served as the first Honorary Chair of the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival at TAU, established in 1986 and now the largest in the world. In 2015, the University announced a $10 million gift from Tisch, and the the TAU Department of Film and Television was subsequently named The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television. Its perspective is “the changing of ideas”

PhD student Yum Coman-Becker expressed her gratitude. Yonah Rozenkier, a Steve Tisch School graduate, was an unconventional student who entered film school at 27 after serving in the Israel Defense Force. Addressing Steve Tisch from the podium he declared “you’ve changed my life – and probably also saved it! Thanks, man.”

Dr. Boaz Raz is head of the Steve Tisch Film School.  “There’s a lot of work ahead…There are many obstacles in the industry.  We must actively create new opportunities-to tell our own stories.”

For more information, please visit https://www.aftau.org/.

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