Filmmaker Avraham Heffner Dies Photo: Kneller Israel

September 19, 2014

Actor, screenwriter, director and producer Avraham Heffner dies at age 79 in Tel Aviv.

He was born in Haifa in 1935 and served in the Nahal army band during his time in the Israel Defense Forces. After studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, he pursued a career in film, building on a love of cinema that developed in his teen years. He made his acting debut in 1964’s “Hole in the Moon” and continued to perform in front of the camera in films and TV shows into the 1970s.

He wrote and directed the 1967 short film “Slow Down,” adapted from a Simone de Beauvoir story; the film won the Silver Lion Award at the 1969 Venice Film Festival. Influenced by the European avant-garde movement, Heffner over the next two decades wrote and directed the feature films “But Where Is Daniel Wax?”; the semi-autobiographical “Aunt Clara”; “The Winchell Affair,” about a modern effort to solve a British Mandate-era assassination; and “The Last Love of Laura Adler,” a tribute to the lost world of Yiddish theater. His other work included the 1998 TV miniseries “The Small Country, a Great Man,” which won acclaim for its cynicism in portraying the evolving State of Israel.

“But Where Is Daniel Wax?” is considered by some Israeli film scholars to be the greatest movie in the state’s history. It tells the story of an Israeli who returns for a visit 10 years after leaving to make it big in the United States.

Heffner was a longtime lecturer in filmmaking and screenwriting at Tel Aviv University, where he influenced such younger filmmakers as Eitan Green, Renen Shor, Ari Folman, Hagai Levi and Dover Kosashvili.

He received an Ophir for lifetime achievement from the Israeli Film Academy in 2004.