Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren will host the 2016 Genesis Prize award ceremony in Jerusalem.
At the June 23 ceremony, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu will present the $1 million Genesis Prize to Itzhak Perlman, an acclaimed violinist, educator and advocate for individuals with disabilities.
The Genesis Prize, which has been referred to as the “Jewish Nobel,” is given to individuals who have achieved professional success, made a significant contribution to humanity and inspired others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
Previous recipients are former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the actor-director Michael Douglas.
“We are honored that Dame Helen Mirren, an actress of such talent and accomplishment, will host the 2016 Genesis Prize ceremony and help us celebrate the extraordinary life and achievements of Itzhak Perlman,” said co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets. “Dame Mirren has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, and we look forward to the elegance and grace she will bring to the ceremony.”
The Genesis Prize is endowed by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which endeavors to build Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.
Mirren’s career has spanned nearly 50 years since her first performance in 1967 with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She won an Oscar for best actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” and a Tony Award in 2015 for best actress in a play for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in “The Audience.” She has also earned four Emmy Awards.
Mirren has visited Israel on several occasions, the first time in 1967 when she worked on a kibbutz, and has spoken out often in support of the Jewish state.
“Through my first visit to Israel in 1967, I came to love and admire the country and its people, and I continue to be inspired by the creative spark Israelis bring to all forms of art, including film and music,” the actress said in a statement. “My connection to Israel and the Jewish people has truly been a part of making me what I am today, and I am very excited to be returning to this great country.”
Mirren starred in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” which tells the story of Maria Altmann, an Austrian-American woman who made headlines in 2006 for winning her legal battle against the Austrian government to reclaim five Gustav Klimt paintings, among them “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” nicknamed “Woman in Gold.” Following its restitution to Altmann in 2006, the painting was acquired by Ronald Lauder and is now on display at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan.
In the film, Mirren plays Maria Altmann, an Austrian-American fighting to reclaim her family’s Gustav Klimt paintings - including the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I - stolen by the Nazis during World War Two. Altmann’s lawyer, E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg, is portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.
“Being a part of this film and preserving Maria Altmann’s legacy has been a truly exceptional experience from the start,” Mirren said in a statement. “I am utterly moved to be receiving an award from the World Jewish Congress, an organization that does such important work all over the globe in advocating for Jewish rights.”
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder purchased the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I after its restitution to Altmann by the Austrian government in 2006. It is now on display at the Neue Gallery in New York City.
“The history of the ‘Woman in Gold’ painting exemplifies the immense suffering, painful loss and, for a prolonged period, the injustice that many Jews were subjected to during the 20th century,” added in a statement released by the Weinstein Company. “With the opening of this new movie, audiences can learn about the second half of the Nazi-looted art story: the postwar art grab by governments and museums that willfully continued the Nazi theft, both by hiding the art from the rightful owners or their heirs and by fighting the victims in court to keep the artworks.”
“Thanks to Helen Mirren’s stunning performance, the international public will learn about this legacy of World War II which still hasn’t been addressed properly by many governments and museums.”
Just about any moment in Phil Spector’s life could be made into a captivating movie: the years when he invented the Wall of Sound, wrote some of the greatest, most successful songs of all time, and turned the anonymous record producer into an artist, even a visionary; the time he spent with George Harrison and John Lennon recording their first solo albums; his tortured relationships with Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen; and his retreat from public life in the late-1970s, when Spector became a kind of Charles Foster Kane, alone in a castle of his fortune. (How audacious would it be to make a movie now, with Spector serving nineteen-years-to-life in a California prison, about his rise to fame?)
The events of HBO’s “Phil Spector” (written and directed by David Mamet) are the behind-the-scenes preparations for the first of his two murder trials: witness depositions, meetings with ballistics experts, and, above all, twisted conversations between Spector (Al Pacino) and one of his attorneys, Linda Kenney Baden (Helen Mirren).
Yet it’s not entirely clear that “Phil Spector” is actually a movie about Spector’s life, or even a movie about the trial. The movie begins with a disclaimer announcing “Phil Spector” as a “work of fiction… neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.” This initially seems like a legal notice, a way of averting a lawsuit, or an attempt to skirt public criticism for making Spector sympathetic, but the disclaimer turns out to be much more interesting. “Phil Spector” is a movie about the bizarre reverb of life and storytelling, of life and biography, about the way that performers get trapped in their performances, and the way that those legends make it impossible to see the core person–if that person is even still there.
In particular, “Phil Spector” calls back to Russ Meyer’s 1970 cult classic, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” In that camp parody of the sexual revolution (co-written by Roger Ebert), a Spector-manqué named Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell adopts and corrupts an all-girl musical group, tightly controlling their career. They ultimately drift away from Z-Man and try to regain their lost innocence, but not before a spurned, jilted Z-Man traps them in his castle-mansion and explodes in a psychedelics-fueled murderous rage.
HBO has released a trailer for its upcoming Phil Spector biopic, about the legendary record producer and convicted murderer. The film, written and directed by David Mamet, stars Al Pacino as Spector and Helen Mirren as his defense attorney. Based on the trailer, though, the main attraction seems to be the many phases of Spector’s hair. Take a look:
In her latest film, “The Debt,” British actress Helen Mirren plays retired Mossad agent Rachel Singer. And in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine’s Andrew Goldman, the Oscar-winning actress (and Dame!) discussed the possibility of having Jewish roots.
When asked if she might be “a secret Jew,” and — like Madeleine Albright — find out later in life that she was actually Jewish, Mirren answered, “I wouldn’t be surprised … My mum came from the working-class East End of London, where the Jewish immigrants began their journey in English society. I’ve always thought I might have either some Jewish or some Gypsy, one or the other,” she said.
When Goldman asked whether she’s ever had moments when she thought, “Oh, I feel very Jewish,” Mirren answered: “My love of sparkle. I don’t think that’s particularly Jewish or Gypsy, but I do have a certain love of sparkle.”
We’re not quite sure what that last part means, but we’d be happy to welcome her to the tribe!
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