Rabbi Marvin Hier is an Academy Award-winning documentary producer whose latest film is The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers, based on the best selling book by Ambassador Yehuda Avner. The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers, which Rabbi Hier co-wrote and produced along with the film’s director Richard Trank, takes the audience inside the offices of Israel’s Prime Ministers, through the eyes of an insider, Yehuda Avner, who served as a chief aide, English language note-taker and speechwriter to Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres. The first of two parts (the second part to be released in spring 2014), the documentary focuses on Ambassador Avner’s years working with Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir and then US Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. The second part, The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers, will examine Ambassador Avner’s experiences with Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres as well as his service as Israel’s Ambassador to England. Starring the voices of Sandra Bullock as Golda Meir, Michael Douglas as Yitzhak Rabin, Leonard Nimoy as Levi Eshkol and Christoph Waltz as Menachem Begin, The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers is the 13th release by Moriah Films, the documentary filmmaking division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
In 2012, Rabbi Hier, once again co-wrote and produced It Is No Dream, once again with director Richard Trank, exploring the life and times of Theodor Herzl, father of the modern State of Israel. Narrated by Academy Award winner, Sir Ben Kingsley and starring Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the voice of Theodor Herzl, the film examines how Herzl, a well-known journalist and playwright, an assimilated, Budapest-born Jew, horrified by the Dreyfus trial in Paris and the anti-Semitism he saw spreading across Europe, took upon himself the task of attempting to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine against all odds. Over the span of eight years, Herzl organized and led a worldwide political movement that, within fifty years, led to the establishment of the State of Israel. The film follows Herzl as he meets with Kings, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, a Sultan, a Pope and government ministers from Constantinople to St. Petersburg, from Paris to Berlin, from Vienna to Vilna, in his quest to build a Jewish nation.
In 2011, Rabbi Hier, once again collaborating with director Trank, co-wrote and produced Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, the documentary focused on Winston Churchill’s years in the political wilderness, his early opposition to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and his return to government as Prime Minister in May 1940 by the demand of the British people. Sir Martin Gilbert, historical consultant for the film and Winston Churchill’s official biographer, theorizes that Western Civilization as we know it was saved by Churchill during the period when he, alone among the world’s leaders, stood up to Hitler and Nazism. He adds that had Churchill’s warnings about Nazi Germany’s racial policies towards Jews been heeded in the early 1930’s, the Holocaust would never have occurred. As historian John Lukacs explains in the film, Winston Churchill did not win the war in 1940. The war was won once the Americans and the Soviets entered the battle in 1941. But Lukacs points out that in 1940, the war could have been lost if it was not for Churchill. Among those featured in the film are Winston S. Churchill (his grandson and namesake), Celia Sandys (one of his granddaughters), best-selling author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, singer and actress Dame Vera Lynn and many eyewitnesses who survived the Battle of Britain. Featuring rare stills and archival film footage, the documentary also includes newly filmed sequences at Churchill’s country home, Chartwell, the War Cabinet Rooms, the Parliament, Dunkirk, among other locations. Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny played in film festivals around the world and was one of the highest grossing theatrical documentaries of 2011.
In 2009, Against The Tide, which he co-wrote with its director Richard Trank, was released by Moriah Films. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, Against The Tide examined the conflict that erupted in the American Jewish community in the late 1930’s and 40’s over the best means to rescue the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. It told the little known story of Peter Bergson, who stood up against the American Jewish leadership and the Roosevelt Administration in his tireless efforts to save the Jews of Europe. The documentary also looked at how European Jews desperately tried to get the word to the outside world about what was happening to them to no avail. Shot on location in England, Germany, and Israel and featuring a never before seen interview with Bergson filmed by Claude Lanzmann (Shoah), the film also included an original score composed and conducted by Emmy and Grammy Award winner Lee Holdridge. In 1998, Rabbi Hier and Richard Trank won Academy Awards for the 1997 Feature Documentary The Long Way Home, directed by Mark Jonathan Harris.
In 2007, Rabbi Marvin Hier co-wrote and was one of the producers of I Have Never Forgotten You, a comprehensive look at the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter and humanitarian who died in 2005. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, it debuted as a special selection at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival and had its North American premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was one of the top ten films in the voting for the Audience Award. The winner of the Audience Award at the 2007 Cinevegas Film Festival, I Have Never Forgotten You was a selection of the LA Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Viennale. Shot on location in Austria, England, Germany, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the Ukraine and the US and featuring previously unseen archival film and photos, I Have Never Forgotten You also includes interviews with longtime Wiesenthal associates, government leaders from around the world, friends and family members. Wiesenthal’s only child, Pauline, appears in the film giving her very first interview about her mother and father and their almost 70-year relationship.
As founder of Moriah Films, Rabbi Hier has been the recipient of two Academy Awards – in 1997 as co-producer of The Long Way Home and in 1981 as co-producer and co-writer for Genocide, directed by Arnold Schwartzman (with whom he shared Oscar honors that year). In 2006 he co-wrote and produced (along with Richard Trank) Ever Again, which examines the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe and its connection to international terrorism. Ever Again is narrated by Kevin Costner and was released in the U.S. by Rocky Mountain Films in December 2006. In early 2005, Rabbi Hier and Trank completed production on Beautiful Music, the first short subject documentary produced by Moriah Films and the winner of the 2005 Hollywood Film Festival for Best Documentary. Narrated by Brooke Shields, Beautiful Music tells the emotional story of the relationship between an Orthodox Jewish music teacher and her blind and autistic Palestinian student. In 2004, Rabbi Hier and Trank teamed up again to write and produce Unlikely Heroes, narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, chronicling seven extraordinary people who either resisted or defied the Nazis during the Holocaust. In 2001, Rabbi Hier co-wrote and produced (again with Trank) In Search of Peace, Part One: 1948-1967, an exploration of the first decades of Israel’s existence.
In 1977, Rabbi Hier came to Los Angeles to create the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named in honor of famed Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. Under his leadership, the Center has become one of the foremost Jewish human rights agencies in the world, with a constituency of more than 400,000 families and offices throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel and Argentina.
The Center’s educational arm, the Museum of Tolerance, opened in February 1993 to worldwide acclaim. Founded to challenge visitors to confront bigotry and racism and to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts, the Museum hosts over a half million visitors a year, including 110,000 students. Because of the success of its diversity training programs, a New York Tolerance Center opened in Manhattan in February 2004. The Wiesenthal Center is also in the process of creating the Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, a 400,000 square foot site located in the heart of the city, designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry.
In 1992 and again in 2003, Rabbi Hier keynoted historic conferences on anti-Semitism and the struggle for tolerance, which were co-sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, convened at UNESCO’s international headquarters in Paris. In December 2003, Rabbi Hier met at the Vatican with Pope John Paul II. At the private audience, he discussed the worldwide threat of anti-Semitism and terrorism and the Center’s campaign to make suicide bombing a crime against humanity. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, his dialogue with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl led to a critical debate on German reunification and the need for “deutsche memory.”
Under his direction, the Center has served as consultant to Steven Spielberg’s epic Schindler’s List and ABC Television’s miniseries adaptation of Herman Wouk’s novel War and Remembrance, among others. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Rabbi Hier is the recipient of an honorary degree and many awards. Among them, he received an honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University (2004) and was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Merite by French President Francois Mitterrand (1993).
Genocide (1981) Co-Writer, Producer
Echoes That Remain (1991) Co-Writer, Producer
Liberation (1995) Co-Writer, Producer
The Long Way Home (1997) Producer
In Search of Peace (2001) Co-Writer, Producer
Unlikely Heroes (2003) Co-Writer, Producer
Beautiful Music (2005) Co-Writer, Producer
Ever Again (2006) Co-Writer, Producer
I Have Never Forgotten You (2007) Co-Writer, Producer
Against The Tide (2009) Co-Writer, Producer
Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny (2010) Co-Writer, Producer
It Is No Dream (2012) Co-Writer, Producer
The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers (2013) Co-Writer, Producer