Israeli Early Cinema

In memory of Jospeh Halachmi (1933-2019), Founder & Film historian

Today’s Doodle celebrates the 95th birthday of Polish-born, Australian director, scriptwriter, producer, and animation giant Yoram Gross—a survivor of the Holocaust who became the creative mastermind behind some of Australia’s most iconic cartoons. Gross captivated generations with stories that surpassed mere entertainment as each passed down a lesson drawn from a lifetime of optimism and overcoming hardship.

Yoram “Jerzy” Gross was born on this day into a Jewish family in 1926 in Krakow, Poland. After the near collapse of the Polish film industry during World War II, Gross worked as an assistant on his first movie in 1947. He moved to Israel in 1950, where his independent film work garnered renown globally, especially in Australia.

He heeded the enthusiastic praise of Australian critics and migrated down under in 1968 to further evolve his production repertoire by founding Yoram Gross Film Studios with his wife, Sandra Gross. To address the lack of Australian-made children’s movies, Gross combined animation with live-action backgrounds—a style that became his trademark—to produce the full-length 1977 animated blockbuster “Dot and the Kangaroo.” This quintessential Aussie story became the nation’s first animated feature to achieve commercial success.

The film’s excellent reception set the stage for Gross to create an empire of family-friendly animated television series. His work has since been aired in over 70 countries and continues to entertain and inspire millions with beloved characters such as Blinky Bill, the mischievous Koala. Gross and his legacy live on in the Yoram Gross Animation Award, an annual award acknowledging the best animated feature at the Sydney Film Festival.

Happy Birthday, Yoram Gross—here’s to an animated life!

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