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February 12, 2016 / 3 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘movie’

Terror Threat Puts Kibosh on Sony’s NYC Film Release

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The threat of a possible terror attack put the kabash on a Sony Pictures Entertainment release across the United States of “The Interview,” a comedy depicting an assassination attempt on North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Sony’s cancellation of the December 25 release followed a direct threat of terror from North Korea against theaters nationwide if they were to screen the movie, and against those who went to the theaters to see it. It came against the backdrop of a decision made by the studio’s largest theater affiliates in the United States and Canada not to show the film.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers,” Sony said.

North Korea’s leadership was outraged over plot of the movie, to the point that in June, Washington received demands from Pyongyang to nix the film. That did not happen, and in November a hacker group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” launched a massive cyber attack against Sony in retaliation for continuing with production of the movie.

At first diplomatic and cautious on the topic, within days Sony officials acknowledged that it appeared likely the North Korean government was be behind the attack. The ongoing siege of Sony Pictures involves increasing data dumps of sensitive personal and business information and threats of further similar “gifts.”

Following last week’s Los Angeles studio premier of the film, the threats took an even more ominous turn. The hackers vowed a 9/11-style attack on movie theaters across the U.S. that dared to screen “The Interview,” and moviegoers who chose to attend.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the hackers wrote in a long-winded warning posted on the internet. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave,) the hackers added. Another dump of personal data files accompanied the warning, these linked to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Landmark Theaters’ Sunshine Cinema on New York City’s Lower East Side was the planned venue for the NYC studio premier for the film this coming Thursday evening. At midnight Tuesday night local time, Landmark was telling media that it still planned to continue with the premier as scheduled.

But New Yorkers awoke on Wednesday to the news that the East Coast premier for “The Interview” had been canceled by Landmark Theaters for the Big Apple. No explanation was given for the decision.

Just to be on the safe side, the film’s two co-stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco have scrapped their promotional tour for the film and canceled all public appearances.

But for Israelis who are either staying in New York or visiting the area for Hanukkah, terror threats are nothing new. In Israel all public venues are typically secured by armed individuals with military experience, trained to stop potential threats.

“Americans are not accustomed to such security measures,” which are accepted as a way of life and have saved countless lives in Israel, an IDF veteran told JewishPress.com on Wednesday, but requested his name not be used. “This may be the future there someday as well, but because of the numbers and the diversity of targets, security may become much more difficult.”

The FBI meanwhile has told media in a statement, “There is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.” Nevertheless, to its credit, Sony notified its associated theaters about the threat immediately and said they had the option of choosing not to screen the film.

New York Police Department officials were not willing to toss in the towel on the film, however. “We have been down this road before with other films, about [former Al Qaeda leader Osama] Bin Laden and others,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism John Miller told the New York Post. “We will be beefing up security anywhere there’s a marquee, with patrols, critical response vehicles and the Hercules teams.

Sony Hackers Issue First Terror Threat to US Movie-Goers … From North Korea?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Americans are revisiting their experiences with terror via the Sony Pictures Entertainment cyber attack — but the latest warning from the attackers escalated on Tuesday to the real thing.

The hacker group calling itself ‘Guardians of Peace’ which began a massive cyber-siege against Sony on November 24 told movie-goers to avoid seeing the upcoming new movie “The Interview,” or else.

The attack is believed to have been launched by North Korea in retaliation for the film’s plot line, which is a comedy revolving around the assassination of that country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. North Korea has made it clear it is outraged by the plot and although it officially denied having carried out the attack, lavishly praised those who did.

A nuclear reactor destroyed in northeastern Syria September 6, 2007 by Israel in order to prevent the production of weapons of mass destruction was being built at the time by North Korean technicians, according to international media reports at the time. North Korea had for years been a player in the Middle East, sharing its nuclear technology with Syria and other players, swapping expertise with Iran.

In June, North Korea called on Washington DC to block the release of the controversial comedy “The Interview” or face a “decisive and merciless countermeasure,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Warning. We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” read the note allegedly written by the hacker group.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

“Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”

The warning was issued at approximately 9:30 am together with another barrage of files linked to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

The FBI still sees “no credible evidence of a threat” but is taking the issue seriously, as are a number of cyber security firms. “The FBI is aware of recent threats and continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate the Sony attack,” the FBI told the Times in an email.

Likewise, Ralph Echemendia, head of Red E-Digital once worked with Sony on cyber security issues and told the Times Tuesday, “This now borders on terrorist activity and would define the Guardians of Peace as a terrorist group.”

The LA premier of the film was held at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel last week despite the hacker attack. Security was ramped up, as was the pace of the event. No interviews were allowed on the red carpet.

A similar studio premier is set for New York City this Thursday at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, on the Lower East Side. But given the challenges already facing the city’s police department from the groundswell of protests around the Big Apple, it is unlikely that studio execs will be willing to risk much more than a fairly modest affair. Nevertheless, beyond that point, the film is expected to hit theaters as scheduled on December 25.

Gett Nominated for the Golden Globes

Friday, December 12th, 2014

An Israeli film that scrutinizes Israel’s  divorce laws has been nominated for the Golden Globes as one of the Best Foreign Language Films.

The selection of “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”, by the brother and sister team of Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, was announced on Thursday by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The film, which stars Ronit Elkabetz in the title role, follows an Israeli woman in her five-year quest to obtain a Jewish legal divorce, or get, from her husband through the Israeli rabbinical court system. The husband’s persistent refusal leaves her stranded in legal limbo, since Jewish law dictates that he must consent to release her from the marriage.

The film is the third in a trilogy by the sibling writers and directors, following the 2004 film “To Take a Wife” and 2008’s “Shiva,” which focused on the same main characters.

According to Variety, the movie’s success has spurred a movement to change the divorce laws depicted in the movie, which can leave women at the mercy of uncooperative husbands. Variety reports that the administration of Israel’s rabbinical courts plan to screen the movie at the annual meeting of the country’s rabbinical judges in February.

“We wrote Vivian’s story based on the very simple fact that still today in Israel a woman must get her husband’s consent if she wants a divorce,” said Ronit Elkabetz in response to the nomination, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I am happy and proud that we have brought Vivian’s voice and struggle for freedom to the world. The film asks that women be allowed to live their lives with dignity and basic human rights.

An IMAX Film of the Jerusalem You Never Have Seen Before (Video)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Five years in the making, the first IMAX film ever made about Jerusalem is as much a visual tour de force as a marvel of cultural diplomacy.

“Jerusalem,” which had its world premiere last week at Boston’s Museum of Science, uses cutting-edge cinematography to immerse the audience in the ancient city’s historic sites from rarely seen perspectives.

Over the course of 45 minutes, viewers are treated to rare aerial views of the Old City as Jews gather at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing, Christian pilgrims march down the Via Dolorosa and Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan.

Distributed by National Geographic Entertainment, the film, narrated by the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, will show on IMAX screens and in digital 3-D cinemas across the United States in the coming weeks.

Gaining access to some of the world’s most sensitive and contested locations was a test of devotion and artful negotiations that took the film’s three producers and a team of advisers years to accomplish. Preparations required dozens of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, the Israeli army and the many clerics who control the city’s religious sites.

Filming from a low-altitude helicopter in the Old City of Jerusalem’s strict no-fly zone required a permit that had not been granted in more than 20 years, the filmmakers said, and acquiring the permit took eight months of negotiations.

In advance of the shooting, producers took out ads in the major Hebrew- and Arabic-language newspapers to notify residents about the helicopter filming.

“There was nothing that was not complicated,” Taran Davies, one of the film’s producers, said at the premiere.

Even the terrestrial shots were difficult to carry off. For the scene filmed at the Western Wall, an IMAX camera was mounted on a crane above the crowds.

The most challenging authorization by far was for the Temple Mount, known in Islam as the Muslim Noble Sanctuary, which required permission from the Islamic custodial body, the religious affairs ministry in Jordan and Israeli security forces.

A critical figure in helping the producers navigate the logistical maze was Ido Aharoni, now Israel’s consul general in New York. Aharoni first learned about the film six years ago when he directed Brand Israel, a project to promote Israel around the world.

He recognized the potential of portraying the country’s historical and cultural gems in such a visually powerful medium. IMAX films also typically screen in museums and can run for years.

“The whole purpose of the movie is to produce a visually awesome experience for the moviegoer who happens to be a museumgoer; it can’t be judged like any other movie,” Aharoni told JTA. “Realizing that, we told [the producers], ‘Whatever you need, we’ll help you.’ ”

The film’s mesmerizing visuals are woven into a narrative propelled by the voices of three teenage Jerusalemite women — Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Fluent in English, the women offer eloquent descriptions of the deep religious, cultural and family ties that bind them and their respective religions to their home city.

Though the film was carefully planned down to the last minute and camera angle, Daniel Ferguson, the film’s producer, writer and director, told JTA the teens’ words were their own.

“My goal is to promote understanding,” Ferguson told JTA. “The film will change assumptions and give a window into another point of view.”

The voices of the women are supplemented by that of Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, who guides viewers through an ancient tunnel and visits active excavation sites that continue to unearth the history of the land.

The filmmakers took great pains to balance the presentation of all three religions, according to George Duffield, another producer with longstanding ties to Israel. He and Ferguson say they were at times pressed to take a position on controversial or political issues, but insisted on neutrality.

“Everyone wanted the film to be about their own faith,” Duffield said. “That’s how they see the city.”

The producers hope the film can be used to promote tolerance and understanding. Profits will be donated to the Jerusalem Foundation and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to underwrite projects that benefit all residents of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem."

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem.”

Chinese Crew Begins Blockbuster Filming in Old City (Video)

Monday, June 24th, 2013

A Chinese film crew has begun filming what is supposed to a blockbuster movie of a romantic comedy in the Holy Land and which will expose Israel to the Chinese, to the delight of the Tourism Ministry and the tourist industry.

The ministry is investing more than $80,000 to help promote the film, with expectations that the exposure of Israel to Chinese movie-goers will attract them to visit.

The artists worked with the Ministry of Tourism to arrange the filming of the movie “Old Cinderella,” starring Zhang Jingchu. “It’s a great pleasure to be here in Jerusalem and in Israel,” the actress says. “It’s amazing.”

Approximately 15 minutes of the 95-minute film will be filmed in Israel.

In recent years, more and more foreign film companies are choosing Israeli settings for their works. Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other locales provide a dramatic and visually rich landscape for feature films.

China Chooses Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Dead Sea for Major Movie

Friday, April 5th, 2013

A major Chinese film company has chosen Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea as scenes for what is expected to be blockbuster movie.

The Ministry of Tourism is investing more than $80,000 to help promote the film, with expectations that the exposure of Israel to Chinese movie-goers will attract them to visit.

Chinese stars are performing in the 95-minute film, 15 minutes of which will be produced in Israel, according to the Yediot Acharonot’s website.

The cast and production team are scheduled to arrive in the middle of the month to start filming.

 

 

Upper West Siders Forget to Think Jewish

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The crowd at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema on the upper west side is mainly Jewish and liberal—ultra-liberal. They behave as if they are superior to all “oustjuden,” the illiterate, superstitious, unwashed Eastern European Jews–and therefore, in their sleek leather boots and fashionable coats they are, surely, finally, safe. At least, safer. After millennia of persecution, here are Jews who are not self-hating, not even opportunist, just Jews who feel secure as long as they feel superior to other Jews. The “outsjuden today are the Zionists, the “settlers,” the “right wing.”

Psychologically, this means that they deserve to survive. They are the “good” Jews. Assimilated, exquisitely moral, the first to find imperfections in their co-religionists.

The line swells, people smile, conversations erupt.

“I am surprised those Zionists are not outside protesting,” says one woman.

“They’ll be here for the later showing, believe me” says another.

A man chimes in: “You have no idea how fanatic they can be. I know.”

His listeners nod approvingly.

And still, these safe-and-liberal Jews push and shove and behave like Jews do on a line, at the Jewish Film Festival or at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. This I find funny and slightly endearing.

The film, “The Gatekeepers” directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage. Even if each of the six former heads of the Shin Bet had the right to say what he said; even if the filmmaker had the right to direct just such a film—with messianic hopes of his own that his film will jump-start the Oslo Accords and influence the destiny of the Israelis and the Palestinians; even if more than half of what each former Shin Bet director has to say is true, either technically or factually or philosophically or metaphorically—the filmmaker has an agenda; he is following a lethal narrative script against the Jewish state.

For example, we mainly see Israeli soldiers in full battle gear, rounding up their unarmed, barefoot, blindfolded and handcuffed Arab cousins. Or, we see Israelis commanding targeted assassination drone attacks from safe distances with horrendous collateral damage. We do not see Palestinian terrorists knifing Israeli infants to death or stoning young Israeli boys to death in a cave, or blowing Israeli civilians and tourists up on buses.

Yes, we do see the bloody, heartless carnage of some bus bombings but we do not see the handlers sending their targeted “marks” off to do the bloody deed and thereby ascend to Paradise. Yes, we do see some quick shots of a Palestinian suicide video and of marching, face-masked Jihadists, but no one is ever tied to a particular attack upon Israeli civilians.

Only the Israelis are tied, over and over again, to a handful of specific (and alleged) military and “terrorist” attacks of their own.

Even if the scenes of the right-wing anti-Rabin protests and the alleged “settler” plot to blow up the Al Aqsa mosque are real, as in they really took place—the filmmaker does not manipulate the emotions of his audience by showing us, from within, the Palestinians building their bombs, indoctrinating the next generations, vowing to annihilate Israel and the Jews, torturing dissenters and “collaborators.”

We see Palestinians mainly as pitiful victims. We do not see Gilad Shalit in captivity. We have no fictionalized recreation of Kobi Mandel being stoned to death in a cave or of Israeli mothers and infants being murdered while they sleep. We have no footage of the rockets landing in southern Israel and the terrified children with only seconds to get to a bomb shelter—now traumatized for life. We do not see how 24 Israeli soldiers were massacred, one by one, in Jenin, as they went in on foot in order to avoid international censure for daring to dismantle the bomb-making apparatuses in Jenin.

Yes, we see some scenes of fiery Palestinian rock throwing and some of the awful bus bombings of both the first and second Intifadas. But, Mr. Moreh is no moreh.

He does not talk to the Shin Bet’s counterpart heads of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Authority, or Hezb’ollah, etc. He has his six retired Israeli directors tell us that the Palestinians are ready for peace, that in private meetings they have said so, and that the Israeli government is blind, stubborn, refuses to listen—to the peaceful Palestinians and to their Shin Bet commanders. Can this be true?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/upper-west-siders-forget-to-think-jewish/2013/02/03/

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