The more Ilan Rosenberg pondered the Chanukkah story, the more the Hollywood stunt performer came up with one explanation for how a group of Jewish guerilla fighters beat the much larger Greek army. Maybe the Maccabees had possessed superhuman powers.
Drawing on his stunt experience for movies such as “300” and “Pompeii,” and his Krav Maga training, which includes working with the founder of the Israeli hand-to-hand combat system, Rosenberg decided to embark on his biggest project yet — creating a superhero movie based on the Maccabean Revolt.
“If Moses had a staff, and he used that staff because God made it possible, I just decided that God will give these guys superhero powers,” Rosenberg, who was raised in Toronto by Israeli parents, told the Forward.
In December, he enlisted a group of friends, who also happen to be top stunt performers, to play the roles of the Maccabee clan and other Jewish fighters in a preview for the action movie “The Warriors Maccabbee.”
The preview was shot in Ontario over four days and will be shown to potential investors at the end of the summer, in order to raise funds for the production of a full-length feature.
The endeavor is a personal one for Rosenberg — he invested $20,000 in the production of the preview, in which he plays the role of Matityahu, the Maccabee patriarch.
Among the 100 or so cast members are his son Ian, 18, and daughter Ilora, 21, accomplished stunt performers in their own right who have performed in a plethora of movies and TV shows.
Rosenberg’s goal is making the story of the Maccabee’s bravery, which allowed Jews to regain control of Jerusalem and reestablish ritual Jewish worship in the Temple, known to a larger audience.
“I want to make it an epic adventure. I want it to be as big as ‘300’ or ‘The Ten Commandments.’ It’s something that should be told,” he said. “You always feel there’s something in life you’re supposed to do — maybe this is God’s way of saying ‘tell this story.’”
When thinking about the cast, Rosenberg ran into one problem: the battle story featured Matityahu and his five sons — but no female characters. Rosenberg wasn’t satisfied to leave it at that.
“You can’t have a movie without female heroes. You gotta have the girls in there,” he said.
So, he added an adopted Maccabee daughter into the story line, played by Ilora, in order to diversify the cast.
The preview has been shot against a green screen, and Rosenberg is now raising additional funds to pay for visual effects to be added before it can be shown to investors.
Watch behind-the-scenes takes from the filming here: