This is a fascinating story about water that becomes more relevant each day.
Rubber Ring Films and Stone Canyon Entertainment have wrapped production on Who Are the Marcuses?, their feature documentary about a mysterious couple whose more than half a billion-dollar gift to Ben Gurion University of the Negev tells both the story of a nice Jewish couple—and savvy investors—from Long Island, and re-imagines conflict resolution in the Middle East and peace through the Earth’s most precious resource: water.
Matthew Mishory (Israel: A Concise History; Artur Schnabel; No Place of Exile) directed the film. Producers are Stone Canyon’s Bradford Schlei (Swingers, Spun) and Alvaro Fernandez along with executive producers Marc Bennett (The Tattooed Torah, Shared Legacies) and Rhino Films’ Stephen Nemeth (Dogtown and the Z Boys, Climate Refugees, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Who are the Marcuses?features Warren Buffett, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, historian Daniel Gordis, best-selling philosopher Micah Goodman, E. Randol Schoenberg, Seth M. Siegel, and many others. The film was shot on location in Israel; Austin, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; and other locales throughout 2021. Rhino’s Nemeth is serving as sales consultant for the film.
“Our film has a message—about water technology and philanthropy—that can change our world,” Mishory says. “But films are also about storytelling, and this one tells a story so unbelievable and inspiring, it can only be true. We can’t wait to share it.” The film’s trailer is both a revealing and hopeful look at the film but protects its most surprising secrets. See it here.
Who Are the Marcuses? pieces together the lives of Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus, an unassuming couple from Great Neck, New York, who retired to a modest two-bedroom apartment in San Diego, California. Howard, formerly a dentist, died in 2014 at age 104. Lottie died less than two years later at age 99. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed the Marcuses had given over half a billion dollars to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev—the largest single charitable donation to the State of Israel since its founding in 1948.
Who were these virtually unknown philanthropists who had never publicly revealed their wealth or intentions? How did they accumulate billions by getting in on the early days of the greatest financial services empire ever built? What compelled them and their daughter, Ellen, to give it all away? And why were the Marcuses so captivated by the issue of water scarcity and an innovative university in the Israeli desert?
Professor Daniel Chamovitz, president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, says, “By investing their nest egg, this generous family has enabled [first Israeli Prime Minister] David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the future of Israel, which he declared will ‘emerge from the Negev’.”
Who Are the Marcuses? is Matthew Mishory’s sixth imaginative exploration of notable lives of the 20th century. It follows films about artist/filmmaker Derek Jarman, actor James Dean, musician Artur Schnabel, and purged Russian composer Alexander Mosolov. The sixth breaks the mold: He’s currently shooting Finding Fioretta in Eastern Europe and Italy. That film is about the obsessive, multi-decade quest of Randol Schoenberg—genealogist, Jewish activist and grandson of the composer—to find the centuries-old gravestone of his oldest known ancestor, a woman who died in the 1600’s in the Jewish ghetto of Venice.
Who Are the Marcuses? was photographed by Mishory’s longtime collaborator Michael Marius Pessah (Joshua Tree, 1951; Smiley Face Killers), was co-written by Golan Friedman and features an original score by legendary Israeli guitarist/singer David Broza. The film has an eye on festival play starting in late summer through the fall of 2022—a strategy that could change in the event of an early sale.
“The Marcus’ legacy is a blueprint for how existing and future technology solutions to climate crises can set the stage for lasting peace in the Middle East and beyond,” adds Schlei.
“The Marcuses were humble visionaries who saw the importance of water research not only as vital to Israel’s self-sufficiency but as a strategy to achieve peace through shared natural resources,” says Doug Seserman, chief executive officer of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in New York. “Their transformative generosity will be felt for generations to come.”
Rubber Ring Films is a production company and creative agency based in Santa Monica, CA, making documentary, brand, and narrative content. Who Are the Marcuses? is their first release of a slate of six projects in active production or post.
Stone Canyon Entertainment is a development, production, and financing company based in Santa Monica, CA, whose most recent feature was The Trust, starring Elijah Wood.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was inspired by the vision of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who believed that the future of Israel lay in the Negev region, a desert area comprising more than 60 percent of the country. With some 20,000 students and campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat, BGU is an oasis of innovation, leading research in cyber security, desert studies, climate change, medicine, Israeli studies, and more.
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision by raising funds and awareness for the University that bears his name across the United States, showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and groundbreaking research. www.aabgu.org
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