Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari Wins Ophir Award for Best Actress for Leading Role in "Nadia "
Israeli writer, actor, director, and producer Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari consistently advocates for Mizrahi voices in her artistic pursuits. Through films and plays that often foreground Mizrahi women’s stories in Israel, she integrates her passions for art and advocacy to produce internationally acclaimed works about stories personal to her life.
Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari was born on June 29, 1960, in Beersheba, Israel, to two Moroccan immigrants. The youngest of seven children, she was the only one to be born in Israel. She studied at the Mae Boyar boarding school in Jerusalem, and after her mandatory IDF service she attended Tel Aviv University, where she studied theater.
After leaving Tel Aviv University, Azoulay-Hasfari became one of the founding members of the Simple Theater Group, established to highlight multicultural identities and stories and central to recent Israeli history. Azoulay-Hasfari played a pivotal role in fundraising, as well as in writing, acting, and producing the group’s works. After the group dissolved, Azoulay-Hasfari participated in the mainstream Israeli theater and film industries.
Azoulay-Hasfari considers herself a Mizrahi artist and social activist. Her art is inspired by, and written for, marginalized women. More broadly, the plots and characters she develops deal with themes of gender, socioeconomic status, societal expectations, and injustice in general. The same themes that fuel her artistic pursuits also drive Azoulay-Hasfari to promote social change. She chairs the Israeli organization Beit Ruth, which provides opportunities for at-risk young women to excel academically and personally, and is one of the founders of the Gesher political party, established in 2018.
Azoulay-Hasfari has appeared in stage productions at some of the most prestigious theaters in Israel. She has also written several of her own works, including Match Void, Yom Kippur, Mimuna, and Dina, many of which received international acclaim. In 2016, she was invited to be a resident playwright at the Boston-based Israel Stage. In 2019, she was awarded the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) Culture & Arts Award in the Theater category.
Azoulay-Hasfari has also had a highly successful career in Israeli cinema. In 1994 she wrote one of her first movie scripts for Sc’Chur, a semi-autobiographical telling of a Moroccan family’s migration story to Israel. The film was directed by her husband Shmuel Hasfari and received international acclaim. After her success, Azoulay-Hasfari was featured in many prominent Israeli films, such as Nadia (title role), Girls (Shuli Hazan), Lovesick on Nana Street (Levana), and Shiva (Simona). She also produced, wrote, directed and acted in the 2013 film Orange People. Based on the story of her mother’s life, the film won the Jury Award for Best Film at the International Women’s Film Festival, in Rehovot, Israel. Subsequently, Azoulay-Hasfari was asked to speak at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for international Women’s Day. She also founded the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, an organization for promoting social justice for Mizrahi Jews in Israel through performance.
Bolton-Fasman, Judy. “I Am Woman: Playwright Hanna Azoulay Hasfari at Israeli Stage.” Jewish Boston. March 23, 2016; https://www.jewishboston.com/read/i-am-woman-playwright-hanna-azoulay-hasfari-at-israeli-stage/.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari Wins Ophir Award for Best Actress for Leading Role in "Nadia "." (Viewed on November 30, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/20/1987/hanna-azoulay-hasfari-wins-ophir-award-best-actress-her-leading-role-nadia>.