Soundman Niv Adiri did his home country proud at the Oscars on Sunday night when he nabbed an Academy Award along with the rest of his four-man team for sound mixing on the Sandra Bullock blockbuster “Gravity.”
This was the first Oscar for Adiri, who was raised in sleepy Kfar Vitkin, Israel, and now calls the UK home. He and his team had been considered frontrunners for the prize ever since “Gravity” hit the big screen in October and its audio – carefully constructed from vibrations and layers of sound to mimic that which one might hear in space – wowed reviewers so much it often led their reviews.
Adiri had a bit of practice before hitting the red carpet on Sunday night. Before “Gravity” picked up a total of seven statuettes at the Academy Awards, he and his team managed to earn a BAFTA award, a Cinema Audio Society prize, and a Motion Picture Sound Editors award for their work on the Alfonso Cuaron thriller.
“I feel so lucky and proud! It was an amazing feeling standing up there, and more so to represent Israel, my home!” he told The Times of Israel.
For the second year running, Israeli cinema did not earn a Best Foreign Film nomination, but Adiri was not the only Israeli on hand at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Sunday. Prolific Israeli-American producer Arnon Milchan, who last year told Israel’s Channel 2 that he spent his early years in Hollywood moonlighting as an Israeli spy, joined Brad Pitt on stage to collect the Best Picture statuette for “12 Years a Slave,” on which he served as a producer.
And while no Israeli film has ever won an Oscar, Milchan and Adiri now join a healthy list of Israeli winners, the most notable among them Natalie Portman, who accepted the statue for Best Actress in 2011 for her role in “Black Swan.” At the time, she was heavily pregnant and due to be married to her now husband Benjamin Millipied, who has been living with her in Israel these past few months as she films her directorial debut, and who plans to soon convert to Judaism.
Other Israeli (and Israel-connected) Oscar winners include Yael Melamede, whose coming-of-age documentary short “Inocente” won in 2013; the documentary short “Strangers No More,” which follows the struggles of three migrant children at the south Tel Aviv Bialik-Rogozin school and won in 2011; and the late Alice Herz-Sommer, the focus of Sunday’s Best Documentary winner, “The Lady in Number 6.”