Tisch Film & TV School Hosts First Annual Influencer Award

Homeland Executive Producer and TAU alum Gideon Raff honored
25 September 2016

From left: Head of the Tisch School Yaron Bloch, Jason Isaacs, Gideon Raff, Steve Tisch and TAU President Joseph Klafter 


Tel Aviv University’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television bestowed its first annual Influencer Award at a reception at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. The recipient was writer, director, producer, Emmy Award-winner and TAU alumnus Gideon Raff, the man famous for bringing Homeland to the United States. The evening’s emcee was award winning, critically acclaimed actor/producer Jason Isaacs.


The reception celebrated the vision and generosity of film producer and philanthropist Steve Tisch, who made a transformative $10 million gift to the School in 2015.


TAU President Joseph Klafter said, “Steve Tisch saw the existing talent at our film department and decided to take it to the next level – to create Hollywood on the Mediterranean – and to make it a full-fledged school. The potential is enormous. The School ranks among the top international film schools and holds the largest student film festival. So there’s the talent, the passion, the excellent academics, the innovative environment, the global links and reputation. It’s a great match between the Steve Tisch brand and the Tel Aviv University brand Prof. Klafter said.


Yaron Bloch, Head of the Tisch School noted the School’s emphasis on students’ artistic freedom and autonomy. “We are the only School in the world which waives its rights to our students’ films and hands them over to the students,” he said. “This enables our students to initiate artistic and business partnerships with people in the industry, transforming them into entrepreneurs,” said Bloch.


Tisch, a TAU Honorary Doctor, said, “The Influencer Award serves as an opportunity to celebrate the power of the film and television industry in general and to acknowledge the impactful work of some of the outstanding individuals in the business.


“Gideon Raff is most deserving of this recognition and I’m proud that he is the inaugural recipient of the Influencer Award. Ultimately I hope that these awards will inspire film students around the world to tell stories that help break down barriers and increase dialogue and understanding,” he said.


Gail Reiss, President and CEO of American Friends of Tel Aviv University, said, “Steve Tisch’s support of Tel Aviv University has allowed us to redefine the way students study film and television.”


First Annual Influencer Award Honoree

Gideon Raff is the Executive Producer of Homeland, which was adapted from his highest-rated Israeli TV drama of all time, Prisoners of War, and won the Emmy in 2012 and the Golden Globe for Best Television Series in 2012 and 2013. Raff received a primetime Emmy award for his writing. The show has been nominated for the 2016 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. Some of Raff’s other credits include creating the TV drama series Tyrant and co-creating Dig, a series that stars Jason Isaacs as an FBI agent investigating the murder of a female archeologist in Jerusalem.


 “I’m incredibly honored to receive the inaugural Influencer Award,” said Raff. “Tel Aviv University gave me so many opportunities that have led to a career that I could have only dreamed about. And now, thanks in large part to my good friend, Steve Tisch, and his significant contribution to the university, I know many other young Israeli filmmakers are going to get their big break, too.


“Steve and I share a passion for storytelling and I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to do that throughout my career. I was born and raised in Jerusalem and the high stakes of living there fascinate me. The stories can be very moving.  Prisoners of War was a small Israeli show intended for a small market. Yet, it found its way into 30 countries in its original form and we’re remaking it in so many markets – Russia, India, South Korea etc,” Raff said.


Influencer Award Emcee

The evening’s emcee was Jason Isaacs, who has won or been nominated for Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, International Emmy, Critics’ Circle, Critics’ Choice, Blockbuster and Satellite awards. He spent nearly a year working closely with Gideon Raff, starring in the 10-part USA mini-series Dig. Probably best known to an entire generation as the sinister Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, Isaac’s enormous range of movie work encompasses The Patriot, Black Hawk Down, Green Zone, Armageddon, Peter Pan, Friends With Money, Event Horizon, End Of The Affair, Fury, Good and more. His US TV work includes Showtime’s Peabody Award-winning series Brotherhood, BAFTA-nominated series Case Histories on PBS, NBC’s Awake and The West Wing, HBO’s Entourage and, of course, USA’s Dig.


An impressive list of co-chairs hosted the Influencer Award event, including media industry icons Gail Berman and Bill Masters, Jonathan Littman, Rick Rosen, Chris Silbermann, Ari Folman, Eytan Fox, Brett Ratner and Alon Shtruzman.


The Tel Aviv University School of Film and Television

The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television is Israel’s leading institution of film and television studies, ranked by The Hollywood Reporter among the Top 15 International Film Schools for the third year in a row.


The School has won top titles at film festivals around the world including the Montreal Film Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Palm Springs Short Film Festival, Rome Independent Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.  Most recently, film graduate Elite Zexer swept the 2016 Ophir Awards, the “Israeli Oscar,” for her film Sandstorm, which will represent Israel this winter in the international category of the Academy Awards®.  TAU graduate Maya Sarfaty's  documentary The Most Beautiful Woman was the first Israeli documentary to win a Student Academy Award – also this year.    


TAU has educated generations of filmmakers and scholars who are heavyweights of the industry, including Oscar®-nominated directors Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), Yaron Shani (Ajami), Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers), and award-winning television writer-producers Gideon Raff (Homeland) and Hagai Levi (The AffairIn Treatment). 


Mr. Tisch's gift has allowed the School's academic programs to significantly expand, most recently with the launch of a new Digital Media Studies program that introduces students to advanced media production technology. The Production and Directing Studies program has expanded from three to four years, offering a deeper and more gradual development of knowledge and professional skills. The Film Studies program has also grown to offer students a broader curriculum and the opportunity to explore innovative new teaching methods. New scholarships have enabled students from all walks of life to attend the School, which has quickly become a global magnet for film and television.


Steve Tisch: Philanthropist, film producer and leader

Steve Tisch is a partner at Escape Artists Productions and is co-owner, chairman and executive vice president of the New York Football Giants, the only person with both an Academy Award® and a Super Bowl ring. He received his Academy Award® as a producer of Forrest Gump, which won the Oscar® for Best Picture in 1994, and has received two Super Bowl rings as Chairman of the Giants.


For more than three decades, Tisch has successfully produced compelling stories in film and television, from the critically acclaimed television movie, The Burning Bed, to Risky Business, the sleeper hit that helped launch Tom Cruise’s career.


Other notable films include The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Back-Up Plan, Hope Springs, American History X, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Equalizer.


Tisch has long been a leader in the philanthropic sector and generously contributes his time and resources to a variety of organizations. He is on the Boards of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University. He is the naming benefactor of the sports and fitness center at his alma mater, Tufts University, and of the Steve Tisch BrainSport Program.


In 2014, Tisch served as the first honorary chair of the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival at TAU, long ranked among the top three student film festivals in the world. Established in 1986 by TAU Film & TV students, the prestigious Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival is now the largest in the world. 



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