Joseph Cedar, Israel’s most celebrated film director, returns to our screens next week with his new movie “Norman,” starring Richard Gere, Steve Buscemi, Lior Ashkenazi, Charlotte Gainsborg and Michael Sheen.

The Times of Israel is hosting the film’s first Jerusalem screening on Monday, three days before the official premiere.

Cedar will attend the screening, and will be interviewed live on stage by Times of Israel’s Ops&Blogs editor Miriam Herschlag.

Cedar, a native New Yorker who emigrated to Israel at age six, has received two Academy Award foreign film nominations and an armful of trophies, including awards from the Cannes and Berlin film festivals and the Israel Film Academy.

A scene from the Joseph Cedar movie Norman (Courtesy)

A scene from the Joseph Cedar movie Norman (Courtesy)

“Norman” is his first film set outside the Middle East, although Israel features prominently in a character played by Lior Ashkenazi, who rises to become the Israeli prime minister.

Ashkenazi, one of Israel’s finest actors, also starred in Cedar’s Oscar-nominated comedy “Footnote.”

Norman (Courtesy)

Norman (Courtesy)

Richard Gere plays Norman Oppenheimer, a would-be operator who lives a lonely life in the margins of New York City power and money, dreaming up financial schemes that never come to fruition. Norman strives to be everyone’s friend, but his incessant networking leads him nowhere.

Desperate for someone willing to pay attention to him, Norman sets his sights on Micha Eshel (Ashkenazi), a charismatic Israeli politician alone in New York at a low point in his career. Sensing Eshel’s vulnerability, Norman reaches out with a gift of a very expensive pair of shoes. Eshel is deeply touched. When he becomes prime minister three years later, he remembers.

Joseph Cedar (Courtesy)

Joseph Cedar (Courtesy)

With this connection to the leader of a major nation, Norman is suddenly awash in the respect he has always craved. Flush with his newfound feeling of success, Norman attempts to use Eshel’s name to leverage his biggest-ever deal: a tortuous series of transactions linking Eshel to Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a mogul (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens) and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. But the kaleidoscopic plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe.

Variety says the film is “as gnarled and back-stabbing as anything on ‘House of Cards’,” and notes that Gere’s acting “just keeps getting better.”

Judge for yourself and meet Joseph Cedar next Monday at Cinema City in Jerusalem.

Booking Information:

Monday, March 6; Exclusive Times of Israel preview

NORMAN starring Richard Gere

Director Joseph Cedar talks to Miriam Herschlag

7:45 p.m., Cinema City, Jerusalem BOOK HERE

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