Steve Tisch Makes Transformative $10M Gift to TAU's Renowned Department of Film and Television

Philanthropist and filmmaker's gift will elevate Department to School status, further accelerate Israel's influence in film and TV industry
08 March 2015
Tel Aviv University
Joseph Pitchhadze, senior academic faculty member, Steve Tisch, and Yaron Bloch, head of the Steve Tisch Film School

Tel Aviv University has announced a $10 million donation from philanthropist and Academy Award-winning film producer Steve Tisch that will transform the university's world-renowned Department of Film and Television. The donation comes amidst a boom in the Israeli film and television industry driven by creative visionaries, including a disproportionate number of TAU alumni, and will help fuel its continued growth across the globe. With the expansion, the prestigious Department will become a full school named "The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television" at Tel Aviv University.


The major investment will help attract and expand top level talent, boost the capacity to offer scholarships, provide new state-of-the-art equipment and building renovations, enhance curriculums, and bring international collaborations. Tisch's donation and name will also bring Hollywood know-how and increased visibility to the department, currently ranked among the top 15 international film schools, and help further cement Israel's growing reputation as "Hollywood on the Mediterranean."


"The ability to tell stories is critical to increasing dialogue and understanding, something the world is certainly in need of," said Steve Tisch. "Tel Aviv University is at the forefront of nurturing and growing creative, talented and diverse voices from across Israel and the region. I'm very pleased to support their efforts and honored by their recognition."


As Israel's leading institution of film and television studies, the Department of Film and Television has educated and raised several generations of filmmakers and film scholars who are renowned for their crucial impact on the Israeli cultural arena and the country's film and television industry, including Oscar-nominated directors Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), Yaron Shani (Ajami) and Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers).


"Steve Tisch's commitment to the film school is a tremendous vote of confidence in the talent of our students and faculty members," said President of Tel Aviv University Joseph Klafter. "The new Steve Tisch School of Film and Television will not only enhance academic training and knowledge in the discipline, but will also strengthen Israel's influence on the cinematic arts globally," Prof. Klafter said.


Emerging as a major powerhouse in the film and TV industry, Israel's recent successes include works by graduates of the department, such as Hagai Levi's new Golden Globe-winning drama The Affair (which followed his Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series In Treatment), Gideon Raff's award-winning Homeland, and student Oscar-winner Hadas Ayalon's Paris on the Water.


"TAU's Department of Film and Television provided me with the tools, knowledge and resources to tell my stories, along with an environment to grow, which helped me get where I am today," said Gideon Raff. "The donation from Mr. Tisch is a milestone in Israel's film and TV industry that will have a lasting impact, providing aspiring students with even more support to achieve their dreams and share their creative stories with the world."


"We are now in the midst of major changes in the aesthetics of moving images and in the ways in which films and television programs are made, distributed, and consumed," said Yaron Bloch, Head of the Department of Film and Television at TAU. "Our students, graduates, and faculty are at the forefront of these trends and are exploring emerging possibilities in their artistic work and academic research. Steve Tisch's contribution will make it possible to extend their impact and success both locally and internationally."


"The film and TV industry in Israel is without a doubt booming, and this donation will help further bring Israel to the forefront of world cinema," said Katriel Schory, executive director of the Israel Film Fund. "We have a gift of tremendous creative energy in this country and the universities in Israel are playing a tremendous role in bringing this energy out from talented students. Most of the leading writers and directors who have had great success over the last ten years are graduates from the local film schools, including TAU's Department of Film and Television, and these funds will help take us to an even higher level."


"As a graduate of the Tel Aviv University Department of Film and Television, it is an honor to have taken part in this fruitful relationship between Mr. Tisch and TAU," said Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York. "I consider it a privilege to have been able to introduce Steve Tisch to my alma mater. I wish to express our deep gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Tisch's generosity. This donation will position the TAU film and television school right where it should be: a world class bastion of creativity."


"We're very appreciative of this transformative gift from Steve, whose vision, offering aspiring storytellers a world-class education, is in line with TAU's commitment to breed industry leaders and scholars in every field," said Gail Reiss, President/CEO of American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "This gift from an internationally recognized, Oscar-winning producer, is a historic milestone for TAU in the United States. It will be instrumental in increasing the new School's visibility and stature, making it a global magnet for film and television."


Steve Tisch: Filmmaker, philanthropist and leader

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. On May 29, 2014, at a White House summit, President Barack Obama announced Steve's transformative gift to the department of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine for the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program. Steve is also on the Board of Trustees of The Geffen Theatre in Los Angeles, The Sundance Institute, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Cancer Center at Duke University. He is the naming benefactor of the sports and fitness center at his alma mater, Tufts University.


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 students from the Department of Film and Television, the prestigious Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival is now the largest in the world.


As originally reported by AFTAU.


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