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Nancy Spielberg preps Israeli air force fiction feature

Nancy Spielberg, sister of Steven, is developing a feature about World War II pilots inspired by documentary Above And Beyond: The Birth Of The Israeli Air-Force.

Nancy Spielberg is readying a feature about World War II pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence.

The feature is inspired by the producer’s documentary Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air-Force, directed by Roberta Grossman, which screens this week at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

“I’ve just started talking to people about making the documentary into a [fictional feature] film,” the producer told Screen. “It would make a great feature. This may sound Spielbergian but I see it as a combination of Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones and Saving Private Ryan. It has adventure, heart, sex, everything – it’s very universal.”

Brother Steven could be in the frame as a potential collaborator on the feature: “Steven will get his shot just like everybody else,” said Spielberg, with a laugh. “That would be wonderful. It’s a possibility, you never know. I’m going to shoot high. I’m hoping to do it in a big way.”

Documentary Above and Beyond, co-produced with the Katahdin Foundation, will play at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival later this month.

The film marks the first producer credit for Spielberg, who previously served as consultant on documentary Chernobyl Heart and executive producer on TV doc Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals.

“I have held back on so many film projects because the whole Spielberg thing gets in the way,” she admitted. “You get a lot of stuff thrown at you in the hope that you’ll show it to your brother. But this one felt so right for me.”

The talking heads documentary includes interviews with pilots from the time and contributions from the like of Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman), whose father was also one of the pilots.

“Surprisingly, this story isn’t so well known in Israel,” Spielberg added. “I even met air force commanders from the US and from Israel who were ashamed that they didn’t know the story. They now want to show it to new recruits.”

Spielberg is in discussion with potential distribution partners for the film while also cooking up future documentaries.

She will produce or executive produce Grossman’s Mimi and Donna, about the relationship between a mother and her disabled daughter, and Who Will Write Our History, a doc investigating Emanuel Ringelblum’s diaries about life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

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