David Ben-Gurion (Wikimedia)

Made through a partnership with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the producers particularly seek to education young people about important figures in Jewish history.

Academy award-winning producer and director Richard Trank is putting the finishing touches on his documentary film about Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Ben-Gurion, a founding father of the State of Israel, was the country’s longest-serving prime minister. He was 62 years old when his mission to create a modern Zionist homeland was fulfilled. He died in 1973 at the age of 87.

Made through a partnership with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the producers particularly seek to education young people about important figures in Jewish history.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Marvin Hier, president of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “The reason we do these films is for the younger generation today, because they don’t know that history [of the Jewish people]. And if someone doesn’t tell them, then the people we need to be pro-Israel in the non-Jewish world also don’t know.”

Stressing the challenges to create a State of Israel and the righteousness of the cause, Hier continued, “They don’t know what a struggle it was or [how right] the cause was… A young generation is born, they don’t know that history, and they are very easily attracted to short versions of that history. We don’t believe the solution [to dealing with an increase in worldwide antisemitism] is just to yell; we believe part of the solution is to educate.”

This is not the first film on which Trank and Hier have collaborated. The team won an Academy Award in 1997 for their documentary, Long Way Home, that covered the years 1945-48, when Holocaust survivors rebuilt their lives and helped create the State of Israel.

They have since produced dozens more films together.

Not Just for Jewish Audiences

“I think it’s important in this particular time period, especially for young people,” said Trank. “We don’t just make these films for Jewish audiences; these are films that get released in theaters, festivals, on Amazon Prime and on Netflix.”

The documentary is set to be released in the spring, though it was started nearly four years ago.

At the time, Trank interviewed Shimon Peres for the Ben-Gurion project. The producer realized that Peres was a fascinating subject for a documentary himself. He put the Ben-Gurion film on hold and made “Never Stop dreaming,” a biographical documentary about Peres.

“People in the US know Ben-Gurion is an airport they fly into, they know a face with a crazy hairdo – but they don’t really know about this man: his perseverance and his vision, and how essential that was to the creation and building up of the state,” Hier explained, according to the Post.

Trank describes Ben-Gurion as self-taught and well read. “He taught himself Greek, to read French, German, Yiddish; obviously Hebrew,” noted the Post. “The library this man had was unbelievable – everything from Jewish religious texts to Greek mythology; he just had an unbelievable breadth of knowledge.”

Narrator a Very Big Name in Hollywood

The documentary was filmed throughout Israel, including a northern agricultural settlement where Ben-Gurion had lived, the original site of the Carmel winery in Rishon Lezion, where he had worked, and his home in Sde Boker in the Negev.

Many Hollywood stars have volunteered their time and talents to narrating Simon Wiesenthal Center movies for its Moriah Films division. The center’s first big-name participant was Frank Sinatra, followed by Orson Wells and Elizabeth Taylor. Others include George Clooney, Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman.

Though Trank has not revealed who is narrating the Ben-Gurion documentary, he did say that it was a very big name in Hollywood.