Daily | Assi Dayan, 1945 – 2014

Assi Dayan

Assi Dayan

“Legendary Israeli filmmaker Assi Dayan, one of the most celebrated cultural icons to come out of the holy land with 8 Israeli Oscars, or Ophir Awards, to his name, has passed away at the age of 68.” David Caspi for the Hollywood Reporter: “The son of notorious Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan, who died in 1979, Assi Dayan made his film acting debut in 1967’s He Walked Through the Fields and went on to star in such movies as 1969’s John Huston-directed drama A Walk with Love and Death, co-starring the director’s daughter Anjelica Huston and 1977’s Academy Award Best Foreign Film nominee Operation Thunderbolt.”

“A moody and often gloomy celebrity as well as a fast, brilliant but erratic writer, Dayan moved to the other side of the camera with Hazmana La’Retzach (Invitation to Murder, 1973), an early attempt at making an Israeli film noir, followed by Hagiga La’Eynayim (A Feast for the Eyes), in which he vented his constant obsession with death, that was to follow him all through the rest of his life.” Edna Fainaru for Screen Daily: “The story of a poet whose planned suicide turns into a touted media event for the Godforsaken village where he planned to put an end to his life, the picture’s macabre sense of humor and biting social comments suggested Dayan was far more than just another pretty face with a famous pedigree.”

“All in all, he directed 17 films,” writes Hannah Brown in the Jerusalem Post. “His greatest triumph as a director was Life According to Agfa (1992), a black-and-white film about the alienated patrons of a Tel Aviv bar, which swept the Israeli film awards, winning eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Director and Best Screenplay for Dayan…. As the Israeli film underwent a renaissance in the past decade and a half, he rode that wave and worked with some of the younger directors who emerged as Israel’s new film elite…. He was the uncle of actress/director Shira Geffen and pop star Aviv Geffen, and had a role in Shira Geffen’s 2007 film, Jellyfish, which she co-directed with her husband, author Etgar Keret. Although he was one of Israel’s best known secular, left-wing bohemians, he achieved some of his greatest success as an actor playing against type as ultra-Orthodox and National Religious characters. What was most remarkable was that he seemed to disappear into these roles, never winking at the audience to show how different he was from the men he was playing, and was virtually unrecognizable.”

“Despite his lineage, Dayan was somewhat of a counterculture hero,” notes the AP. “He often lashed out at the state and angrily confronted his father over his military views, his marital infidelities and his reputation for plundering antiquities’ sites…. He was also a popular newspaper columnist who did not shy away from sharing confessions about his own demons. Dayan, who had four children from three marriages, had a tumultuous personal life. He was open about his bouts of drug and alcohol abuse and a series of attempted suicides. ‘Today we lost one of our greatest artists, not just in film but in all culture,’ actress Gila Almagor told the YNet news site. ‘Assi was a guiding light, a multifaceted genius.'”

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