Yoram Gross (1926-2015)
Producer - Director - Script Writer
Yoram Gross is Australia’s leading animation Producer and Director. Internationally acclaimed for his films and television series, Yoram has established a worldwide reputation for the adaptation of children’s characters from books and films to animation that win the hearts of children worldwide.
Yoram is known as a storyteller whose distinctive, non-violent films and series possess a contemporary charm that crosses all international barriers.
Yoram has a rich personal history and uses the mediums of film and television to share his life experiences. Born in Krakow, Poland to a Jewish family, Yoram endured World War II under the Nazi regime. His family was on Oskar Schindler’s infamous list, but chose to make their own risky escape, moving hiding places 72 times.
Yoram looks back on these times as a valuable catalyst. He has a lot to say to children and everyone of his films contains a message, including loyalty, peaceful resolve and good winning over evil. “If you watch my films carefully you will see the history of my life,” he says.
Yoram studied music and musicology at Krakow University. His first love was music: "All I wanted to do was play Chopin", says Yoram. He first entered the film industry in 1947 in Krakow when, at the age of 20, Yoram became one of Jerzy Toeplitz’ first students. Jerzy Toeplitz founded the Polish Film Institute (he also founded the Swiss Film Institute and set up, at the invitation of the Federal Government, the Australian Film and Television School). Yoram commenced his career as an assistant to Polish directors Cenkalski and Buczowski, as well as the Dutch director, Yoris Ivens. He studied script writing under Carl Forman.
In 1950, Yoram moved from Poland to Israel, where he worked as a newsreel and documentary cameraman. He then became an independent film producer and director and began winning prizes at film festivals all over the world. His full-length feature, "Joseph the Dreamer" (1961), a biblical story, received special prizes in many countries all over the world. His world famous experimental film "Chansons sans Paroles" (1958) was selected by international film critics as "the most interesting film of 1959". Another comedy, "One Pound Only" (1964), set the box office record of the year. Yoram now holds more than 80 international awards for his various films.
In 1968 Yoram, his wife Sandra and young family migrated to Australia, and have since then lived in Sydney. They established Yoram Gross Film Studios – initially working from home. Yoram continued to make experimental films and to win awards. He produced film clips for the popular weekly television music program "Bandstand". At the Sydney Film Festival in 1970 he was awarded second prize for "The Politicians" in the category of best Australian-made film, and at the 1971 Australian Film Awards, his film "To Nefretiti" won the bronze award.
Since 1977 Yoram has devoted his energies to making feature-length animated films and series, but continues his interest in experimental films with awards to assist young filmmakers. Yoram strongly believes that it is his turn to continue the tradition from which he benefited so much in the early days of his career and established, amongst other annual prizes, the Yoram Gross Award for Best Animated Film at the Sydney Film Festival and the Yoram Gross Best Animation Award at the Flickerfest International Film Festival.
Yoram wrote a book on making animated films titled "The First Animated Step" (1975), and produced a film of the same title. These invaluable education materials aid in teaching the art of animation in schools and have been in constant use since their production.
The first animated feature film produced by the Yoram Gross Film Studio, called "Dot and the Kangaroo" (1977), utilised a special aerial image technique of drawings over live action backgrounds. The film was based on an Australian classic best seller by Ethel Pedley, and was described by ABC film critic, John Hinde, as a "brilliant technical success and the best cartoon film originated in Australia". It won Best Children's Film in Tehran and also won a Sammy Award for the Best Animated Film at the 1978 Australian Film and Television Awards.
Since then, Yoram has produced, directed and scripted a total of sixteen feature films for children. Eight of these films continue the adventures of Dot from the original film "Dot and the Kangaroo". "Dot and the Bunny" (1982) was the winner of the 1983 Best Animated Film at the 28th Asia Pacific Film Festival, and "Dot and Keeto" won the Red Ribbon Award at the 1986 American Film and Video Festival.
To co-ordinate with the release of his films, Yoram has also published books based on the films "Dot and the Kangaroo", "The Little Convict" and "Save the Lady". In addition, ranges of merchandising products have been released.
Yoram's 1991 animated film, "The Magic Riddle", has a more international flavour than his previous children's films made in Australia. It is based on an original story by Yoram, and is a mixture of fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and many other old time favourites.
In 1992, Yoram continued his interest in animating Australian Children's Classics, with the release of "Blinky Bill", based upon the Australian children's classic by Dorothy Wall. This film introduced the popular Australian koala to the rest of the world as a "real personality", and Blinky Bill, already well loved by generations of Australians, has become Australia's Animated Ambassador to millions of children around the world. Blinky Bill has generated one of the most successful merchandising programs ever initiated in Australia, bringing in millions of dollars in export earnings to the country.
Many of Yoram's films are for children, and "this is because I feel a special responsibility towards them", says Yoram. "I get more satisfaction out of entertaining children, who are the beginners in life". Yoram's commitment to children's education and the Australian Film Industry was highlighted when he staged the Australian Children's International Film Festival for three years in Sydney. The first festival was officially opened by the ex-Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, and the proceeds of the festivals were donated to children in developing nations.
Yoram’s films and series have been enjoyed all over the world and his audience continues to grow from day to day. In 1995 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia for his outstanding achievements and for his contribution to the Australian film industry.
Yoram celebrated his 60th anniversary in the film industry in May 2007. To celebrate this incredible milestone, the New South Wales Film and Television Office honoured Yoram by hosting a special retrospective screening featuring highlights of his career – from his early days of experimental film making in Israel, through to excerpts from his box office successes. One of the highlights of the tribute was the screening of Yoram’s latest project, “Autumn in Krakow”, a poignant short film on his home town of Krakow, based on his late brother Nathan’s poetry.
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