My review of “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers” at 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

On Thursday, October 31, 2013 I attended the highly anticipated Southeast Premiere of The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The sold out event took place at the historic Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a selection in the World Cinema Documentaries section.

Oscar-winning director Richard Trank’s ambitious film is focused on an insider, onscreen host Yehuda Avner, based on Avner's best-selling book The Prime Ministers. Avner served as a chief aide, note-taker, and speechwriter to Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres. This extraordinary movie, the first of two parts, deals with the tenures of Eshkol, Meir, and then-US Ambassador Rabin.  

In a refreshing break from doc tradition, there is no offscreen narrator save for the familiar voices of Sandra Bullock as Golda Meir, Michael Douglas as Yitzhak Rabin, Leonard Nimoy as Levi Eshkol, and Christoph Waltz as Menachem Begin. The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers  is packed with breathtaking archival footage and stills, much of it coming to light for the first time, along with interviews from numerous witnesses to these world-changing events. Confidential memos highlight previously untold stories from this period including the founding of the State of Israel, the development of relationships with US Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and the infamous battles for the nation's survival including the 1967 Six Day War and Yom Kippur War of 1973.     

High production values stem from a seasoned creative team, led by writer/director/producer Richard Trank, many of whom have collaborated on previous documentary features. Trank has close to a dozen docs to his credit – this is his ninth directorial effort. He won the Best Documentary Oscar for 1997’s The Long Way Home and received a Writers Guild of America nomination for co-scripting Against the Tide (2009). Both were co-written with Rabbi Marvin Hier, who also served as a writer and producer on this film. Others on the production team include Co-Producers Katrin Osmialowski and editor Nimrod Erez along with Associate Producers Jason Spira-Bauer and Aviva C. Weinstein. 

Cinematographer Jeff Victor has worked on over two dozen television projects, including acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens, P.O.V., The American Experience, and American Masters, along with 23 big screen productions, including Liquid Sky and Crocodile Dundee. This is his ninth collaboration with Richard Trank. Culled from hundreds of hours of new and archival footage, the picture was masterfully edited by Nimrod Erez (who’s worked on several Trank films as well) and Kristie Fleming.

String-based traditional Jewish music is at the heart of the plaintive score, composed by the legendary, uber-prolific Lee Holdridge. His 27 nominations and wins include two Primetime Emmys (for the CBS series Beauty and the Beast). Holdridge has written, performed, and conducted the music for over 500 feature films and TV movies and series episodes. Motion pictures include Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Mahogany, Oliver’s Story, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Beastmaster, Flashdance, Mr. Mom, Splash, The Twilight of the Golds, and Great Voices Sing John Denver, which was also featured at this year’s FLIFF. Like writer Hier, cinematographer Victor, and editor Erez, Holdridge has worked on a number of Trank’s past documentaries.                

The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers is one of those “you think you know…but you don’t” documentaries that reveals dramatic new information about monumental events in Israel’s early years which will shock even the most seasoned students of world history.

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NOTE: I selected The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers for my Top 7 Documentary Features from the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. It was produced by Moriah Films, the Los Angeles-based film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with distribution through Double Exposure LLC. The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers is now playing in select cities (click here for theaters). The second of the two part project, The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers, is due next year.

The official trailer is below along with a set of stills.

CONNECT:

Official site: theprimeministers-thefilm.com

Official Facebook: facebook.com/ThePrimeMinistersthefilm

Official Twitter: @MoriahFilms


The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers Film Trailer (1080p)

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  • Video Release: August 28, 2013
  • Length: 1.52 min
  • Views: 1878

  Producer Rabbi Marvin Hier and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, the voice of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. [Moriah Films]

Producer Rabbi Marvin Hier and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, the voice of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. [Moriah Films]

  Producer Rabbi Marvin Hier and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, the voice of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. [Moriah Films]

Producer Rabbi Marvin Hier, Oscar winner Sandra Bullock as the voice of Prime Minister Golda Meir, and Director/Producer Richard Trank. [Moriah Films]

  Director Richard Trank interviewing Yehuda Avner for The Prime Ministers [Moriah Films]

Director Richard Trank interviewing Yehuda Avner for The Prime Ministers [Moriah Films]

  Director Richard Trank interviewing Yehuda Avner for The Prime Ministers [Moriah Films]

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (R) and defense Minister Moshe Dayan meet their troops October 21, 1973 on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. [Israeli Gov Press Office]

  Contact Sheet from Eshkol visit to Johnson Ranch 1/7/79 [LBJ Library]

Contact Sheet from Eshkol visit to Johnson Ranch 1/7/79 [LBJ Library]

  Contact Sheet from Eshkol visit to Johnson Ranch 1/7/79 [LBJ Library]

Levi Eshkol (c) accompanied by Min. Menahem Begin (l) and O.C. Southern Command Aluf Gavish visiting troops in Sinai. Date 13/06/1967 photographer Moshe Milner [Israel National Photo Library]

  Levy Eshkol talking to one of the army instructors during a visit to one of the training bases. 02/16/1967. Photographer Milner Moshe [Israeli Gov Press Office]

Levy Eshkol talking to one of the army instructors during a visit to one of the training bases. 02/16/1967. Photographer Milner Moshe [Israeli Gov Press Office]

  Levy Eshkol talking to one of the army instructors during a visit to one of the training bases. 02/16/1967. Photographer Milner Moshe [Israeli Gov Press Office]

Golda Meir and Dr. Henry Kissinger flanked by ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah. Date 27/02/1973 photographer Milner Moshe [Israel National Photo Library]




Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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