The Role of Artistic Creativity in the Lives of Israeli Emigres in Los Angeles

Sam Firstenberg: Interview

Did you have any background in cinema before you migrated to America?

Despite not having traditional access to film school or training, Sam Firstenberg still vividly imagined the possibilities that film could provide. That motive fueled him to migrate to America to receive formal training and be in close proximity to Hollywood, the world’s most influential film industry during the 70s.
Why did you move back to Israel after graduating from a film school in Hollywood?

Firstenberg always wanted to be a part of the film industry in Israel, so after graduation, he relocated back to Israel to work as an assistant director for Menahem Golan.

You mentioned that you studied electrical engineering in Israel, how did you become interested in cinema? 

There was a neighborhood cinema which Firstenberg made frequent visits to. There he saw how a group of people without any obvious connections could unite on an emotional level. Since movies never disappointed him and always found a way to create a synergy, he was intrigued and also enamored by them. These visual stories made him go to the theatre repeatedly, and affected his taste in cinema. There he got acquainted with Hollywood and perceptions of American culture. 

What type of movies were screened in your neighborhood cinema?

Were your parents supportive of your decision to migrate to USA? 

Firstenberg elaborates on the complexity of embarking on a creative career without his parents having the necessary understanding to believe in his visions. However, they didn’t forcefully intervene and attempt to alter his unanticipated decision. His loyalty to developing Israeli movies is a clear testament to the traditional values that his parents instilled in him. 

Why did you direct many action movies despite having an interest in socially conscious dramas? 

Firstenberg’s first featured film, Revenge of the Ninja (1983), enabled him to solely hone in and focus on his capabilities as a director. The film’s debut success prompted Canon Films to reward him with a plethora of opportunities as a lead director.

How did you manage to direct various American ninja movies?

Firstenberg’s first break in American ninja movies is a testament to his creative ingenuity and courageous ambition. His unequivocal ability to capture the essential of martial arts is a direct reflection of his ability to migrate and culturally assimilate into American society.


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