UCSB Alum Matthew Mishory’s Documentary “Who Are the Marcuses?” To Screen at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Matthew Mishory’s Documentary Who Are the Marcuses?

About Unlikely Philanthropists Whose $500 Million Gift Seeks

Peace and Climate Action Through Water Technology

Screens at Santa Barbara International Film Festival February 13 and 15

Who Are the Marcuses?, a feature documentary about a mysterious Long Island couple whose half a billion-dollar gift to Ben-Gurion University in Israel inspires peace and climate action through water tech, will screen at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival next month.

UC Santa Barbara alumnus Matthew Mishory (the upcoming Fioretta; Artur Schnabel: No Place of Exile) directed the film. Producers are Rubber Ring’s and Stone Canyon’s Bradford Schlei (Swingers, Spun) and Alvaro Fernandez along with executive producers Rob Levine (Law & Order, Columbo), Marc Bennett (Shared Legacies) and Rhino Films’ Stephen Nemeth (Dogtown and the Z Boys, Climate Refugees, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

“Our film has powerful messages about climate change, water technology, the environment, and philanthropy that can change our world,” Mishory says. “But films are also about storytelling, and this one tells a story so unbelievable and inspiring, it can only be true. Screening at Santa Barbara is a homecoming for me and a dream come true for the production team. The region is both a growing eco-technology hub and fragile coastal ecosystem.”

Who Are the Marcuses? reconstructs the lives of Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus, an unassuming couple from Great Neck, New York, who retired to a modest two-bedroom apartment in San Diego, California. Former dentist Howard passed away in 2014 at age 104, and Lottie died less than two years later. In 2016, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced that the Marcuses had given them over half a billion dollars: the largest single charitable donation to the State of Israel in its history. The film simultaneously traces the development of Israel’s vital water technology from pre-state to the present; how the Marcuses’ endowment has ensured continued leading-edge development in water science for not only the Israeli people, but the world as a whole; sets the family’s gift in geopolitical context; and explores both its impact and implications for regional peace through technology exchange. It features an original score by legendary musician and peace activist David Broza.

Who were these virtually unknown philanthropists who had never publicly revealed their wealth or intentions? How did they accumulate millions by getting in on the early days of the greatest financial services empire ever built? What compelled them and their daughter Ellen to give it all away? And why were the Marcuses so captivated by the issue of water scarcity and a little-known but innovative university in the Israeli desert?




Who are the Marcuses? features Warren Buffett; Israeli President Isaac Herzog; historian Daniel Gordis; best-selling philosopher Micah Goodman; E. Randol Schoenberg; author and activist Seth M. Siegel, and many others. The film was shot on location in Israel and the USA throughout 2021.


The film will screen twice at the Festival:

Monday, February 13th, 2023 8:30AM PST

Metropolitan Metro 4 Theatre, Screen 4, 618 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 3PM PST (Reception to Follow)

Metropolitan Metro 4 Theatre, Screen 4, 618 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Ticketing options available here: https://sbiff.org

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