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Tarantino: Hollywood snubbed ’80s Israeli directors ‘in an antisemitic way’

Acclaimed film director heaps praise on filmmakers Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus during Jerusalem Film Festival, says he had admired them at the time

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Director Quentin Tarantino at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival on August 24, 2021 (Courtesy Jerusalem Cinematheque)
Director Quentin Tarantino at the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival on August 24, 2021 (Courtesy Jerusalem Cinematheque)

Award-winning director Quentin Tarantino spoke about his long-time admiration for Israeli directors Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus and their fast-paced, action “exploitation” flicks of the 1980s, saying that Hollywood had snubbed them “in an antisemitic way,” in a Jerusalem Film Festival panel held on Thursday.

“I loved Cannon Films in the ’80s,” said Tarantino. “I was really enamored with that company. We thought if we could meet Menahem and Yoram, they would give us a chance.”

The evening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque was dedicated to Cannon Films, the failing film company bought by cousins and film producers Golan and Globus for $500,000 in 1979.

Globus was present on Zoom, along with Tarantino, Israeli director Navot Papushado and screenwriter Hilla Medalia.

Tarantino, married to Israeli Daniella Pik and now an “abba” (Hebrew for father) to their toddler son, has spent long stretches of time in Israel, including a lengthy one last year due to the coronavirus.

Tarantino spoke about his years prior to making it in Hollywood, when he and Roger Avary, who worked with him in a video store and then collaborated with him on “Pulp Fiction,” would spend hours watching the movies made by Golan and Globus.

“The American press and trade papers would make fun of them, the Hollywood community would make fun of them and not take them seriously and frankly, in an antisemitic way,” said Tarantino. “What me and Roger saw were two guys trying to take on the industry, trying to take on Hollywood and make the movies they wanted to make.”

At the time, Hollywood seemed a very closed place to Tarantino and Avary and they thought that if they could “somehow meet Yoram and Menachem, maybe they could possibly give us a chance,” said Tarantino.

Tarantino also spoke about his three favorite Cannon films, the 1985 “Runaway Train,” “The Ambassador” and “Ninja III: The Domination,” part of the Ninja Trilogy from Cannon, as well as his favorite Cannon directors, Boaz Davidson and Sam Firstenberg, calling himself a “one-man fan club” of Firstenberg.

Tarantino is introducing several of the Cannon films being screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, including “The Ambassador,” starring Rock Hudson and based on the Elmore Leonard book, “52 Pick-Up” and “Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects,” starring Charles Bronson.

He recommended that anyone opting for a private Cannon film festival screened at home should include the first of the Ninja Trilogy films, “The Last American Virgin” and one of Cannon’s Chuck Norris films, “The Invasion of America.”

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