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Robert Lantos Tells His Story

Canadian producer speaks candidly at event organized by UJA's Entertainment & Media Division
By: Ilan Mester
Published: April 15th, 2011 in Culture » Film » Interviews
Robert LantosPic: NA

Robert Lantos has spent his entire career telling stories he’s produced more than 30 films, including the Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter, the Golden Globe-winning Being Julia and last year’s critically-acclaimed Barney’s Version (based on Mordecai Richler’s celebrated novel).

On Thursday, April 14, it was Lantos’ turn to tell his story. The Canadian producer was at the Park Hyatt Toronto to share some of his life stories to hundreds of listeners at an event organized by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto's Entertainment and Media Division

Filmmaker Atom Egoyan, who’s worked with Lantos on a number of project -- including Adoration and Where the Truth Lies, jokingly told the audience that Lantos asked him to change his name from “Atom the goyim” to “Atom Egoyan.”

The award-winning director said that when he was being honoured by the Armenian community, he asked Lantos to introduce him. And to his surprise, Lantos -- who had just come back from shooting Sunshine -- said that he would support a film about the Armenian genocide if Egoyan was ready to make it. The film became 2002’s Ararat, which won five Genie Awards.

“There’s a very important concept I think in Jewish thought which is tikkun olam, which is the idea of healing the world,” Egoyan told the audience. “And in his not small way, I think Robert has risen to the most extraordinary heights of his faith by making films.”

Lantos took the stage with lawyer Edward Greenspan -- who moderated the conversation -- following Egoyan’s introduction and clips of some of Lantos’ films.

The producer spoke candidly about his childhood in communist Hungary, finding out he was Jewish in Grade 7 and what it was like to move to Uruguay as a child and then eventually to Canada as a young teen. He also talked about the anti-Semitism he experienced growing up and how it affected him.

Lantos also spoke about his connection to Israel and revealed near the end of the conversation that he has the remake rights to Exodus -- the 1960 movie about the founding of the state of Israel, starring Paul Newman.

Related articles: Robert Lantos, Atom Egoyan, film, Exodus
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