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Hanna Azoulay Hasfari

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Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari
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File:Hanna Azulai-Hasfari.jpg
Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari, June 2017
Born (1960-06-29) June 29, 1960 (age 59)
Known for"Levana" Lovesick on Nana Street

"Racheli" Sh'Chur "Solly Barzel" Polishuk "Nadia" Nadia

"Gila Asulin" The Arbitrator (Israeli TV series)
Notable workPlays: "Matchmaking Virgins" (Cameri Theater), "Selichot"; "Mimuna" (Beit Lessin Theater)
Spouse(s)Shmuel Hasfari
AwardsOphir Award 1995 "Chamber of Critics" Award

Hanna Azoulay-Hasfari (Born June 29, 1960) is an Israeli actress, screenwriter, playwright, film director and a two-time winner of The Ophir Award. She is a women’s rights activist, and has dedicated her career promoting awareness regarding social justice issues and cultural diversity. In 2015, she was invited to speak at the United Nations headquarters in New York, in honor of International Women’s Day, where she presented a screening of her film “Orange People” in order to condemn child marriage.

Early Life[edit]

Azoulay-Hasfari was born on June 29th, 1960 in Beersheba, Israel. She grew up as a first generation Israeli, as both of her parents immigrated to Israel from Morocco. She had studied and lived at a boarding school called “Mae Boyar” in Jerusalem. Once she completed her high school education, Azoulay-Hasfari served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Theatre. Once she completed her military service she went on to begin her studies at Tel Aviv University within the acting department.


At the beginning of the 1980's, Azoulay-Hasfari withdrew from the Tel Aviv University where she was studying acting and film. She became one of the founding members of the "Simple Theater Group", a theatre group which was developed as a collaborative effort with a multi-cultural team that would allow artists to express their cultural worldview and to become the central focus of their projects. The theatre group focused on representing the real experiences of eastern history, such as the first generation holocaust survivors, and second generation Mizrachim. Azoulay-Hasfari worked on all aspects of this theatre group: She participated in funding acquisition, screenwriting, production and acting.

While working with the theatre group, Azoulay-Hasfari performed in many plays, including the play "Tashmad" (1983). This play was highly successful and won first place at the Acre Festival, and Azoulay-Hasfari was first awarded as "Best Actress". However, after many years of success "The Simple Theatre Group" dissolved, and Azoulay-Hasfari moved on to enter mainstream theatre and cinema.

Azoulay-Hasfari has made appearances in several theatres in Israel, including the Cameri Theater, the Haifa Theater, Be'er Sheva Theater and Beit Lessin Theater[1]. She has taken on many key roles including:

Alma in "Tasma"d" (Samuel Hasfari); Julie in "Pack of Lies" (Hugh Whitmore); Amelia in “The House of Bernarda Alba" (Garcia Lorca); Mary & Huda ״A Trumpet in the Wadi" (an adaptation of Sami Michael's book by Samuel Hasfari); various roles in “Yellow Time" (adaptation of David Grossman’s project); various roles in “The King" (Samuel Hasfari); Puck in “Midsummer Night's Dream" (Shakespeare); Miranda in “The Tempest" (Shakespeare); Shulamit in “Nathanya” (Shmuel Hasfari); and Rachel in “Valentine” (Rami Danon and Amnon Levy).

She has also written numerous playwrights such as:

"Match Void" (Betulot ShIduch) presented at the Cameri Theater; "The Red Lion" Theater in London; "Yom Kippur"[2] (Day of Atonament) presented at Beit Lessin, the Jewish Theatre, NOTTARA theater in Bucharest, Romania and Boston Center for the Arts[3]; “Satu Mare” theater in Romania and "Mimuna"[4] was also presented at the Beit Lessin and "Dina" was presented at "Boston Center for the Arts" as well.


One of Azoulay first movie scripts was "Sh'Chur" (1994), which was directed by Shmuel Hasfari. It was a semi-autobiographical story of a Moroccan family immigrating to Israel, and it received several international awards and recognition.[5] “Sh’Chur” has also been recognized by the Israeli academia, and has been used as required literature for film studies, as well as anthropology and sociology coursework, and women studies.[6][7][8]

File:Hasfari directing the movie "Orange People".jpg
Hasfari on the set of her directorial debut, "Orange People" (2013)

After the successful completion of her work writing the screenplay for "Sh’chur”, she founded The "Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow New-Discourse", and then later took a year to return to her studies, where she focused on sociology and anthropology. It was at this time she found an interest in her own heritage, and she came to the realization that the roles she was required to play in mainstream cinema didn’t necessarily represent real characters. As a result, she decided to learn about her own family history and began writing screenplays and working on movies regarding the lives of invisible women and incorporated untold stories that revolved around social justice issues.

Most recently, Azoulay Hasfari produced, wrote, directed and acted in her film called “Orange People"[9], which was based on the biography of Azoulay’s mother. "Orange People" was awarded the “Judges Awarded” in 2013 at the International Women’s Film Festival, in Rehovot[10]. As a result of the success of this film, Azoulay was asked to speak at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in honor of International Women’s Day.[11]

Azoulay-Hasfari has made appearances in many Israeli films, including:

"Rage and Glory" (the role of Daphna), "Nadia" (the role of Nadia), "Dead End Street" (the role of Ilana), "The Quarry" (the role of Esther), "Girls" (the role of Shuli Hazan), "Sh'Chur" (the role of Heli),"Lovesick on Nana Street" (the role of Levana),"Schwartz Dynasty" (the role of Ronit),"Shiva’a" (Simona)׳ with Ronit Elkabetz.

Hanna also played in American films "Delta Force 3: The Killing Game" and “Human Shield".


Azoulay-Hasfari was the main creator for the documentaries series "Proletariat[12]" and “My Little Empire", which encourages the empowerment of women through entrepreneurship. Furthermore, she has also written the scripts for several episodes of the TV series of the "Jerusalem Mix".[13]

Azoulay-Hasfari many appearances in Israeli television series include:

"Ugly Esti" (in the role Michal Katzav), "First Degree Love" (the role of Nava Cohen), "Braids" and "The Arbitrator", “Polishuk” (the role of Soli Barzel). She has also acted in several German Television series.[14]

Social Agenda[edit]

Azoulay is a Mizrachi artist and self-proclaimed social activist. She utilizes issues concerning gender, identity and social status from the Israeli society to inspire unique characters, and develop stories that reflect real lives and social injustices. Examples of her work that bring light to social justice issues are films such as “Sh’chur”, “Orange People”, "Proletariat", and “My Little Empire", which highlight struggles experienced by marginalized women.

In March 2015 the film “Orange People” was screened at the international conference for women's status at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Azoulay delivered a speech addressed to the international community condemning the phenomenon of young girls being forced into marriage around the world.[11]

Azoulay is one of the founders of an NGO called The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow New-Discourse, which works on social justice issues through the means of media and alternative performances.

She continues to work on social justice issues as a pro bono chairperson for the “Beith Ruth”, an Israeli organization focused on providing at-risk girls and young women opportunities to excel academically, emotionally and physically. She is responsible for campaigning, fundraising, and negotiating financial and policy agreements with the public and private sector.[15]

In 2018 Azoulay has been given an honorary degree by the Open University of Israel for developing the legacy of the Mizrahim in Israel and for contributing to the female status and the Sepharadic women in Israel through her art.[16]

Personal Life[edit]

Azoulay-Hasfari is currently living in Jaffa, Israel. She is married to the playwright and director Shmuel Hasfari, with whom she has three children.


Year Award Category Nominated Work
1987 Ophir Award Best Actress Nadia
1994 Best Film Lovesick on Nana Street
1995 Best Film Sh'Chur
1995 Festroia International Film Festival Best Screenplay Sh'Chur
2008 Jerusalem Film Festival Best Actress Shiva (2008 film)
2008 Chamber of Critics Best Actress Shiva (2008 film)
2013 "Female Judges Awards" of International Women`s Film Festival In Rehovot Best Film Orange People

In 2018 she had also recieved the "Golden Age" award for her positive portrail of Sephardic characters in Israeli cinema and TV, and for her social contribution towards citizens in peripherial areas.[17]

External References[edit]


  1. "חנה אזולאי-הספרי - תיאטרון בית ליסין". תיאטרון בית ליסין (in עברית). Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  2. "yom kipur – Israeli Dramatists Website". dramaisrael.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  3. "Days of Atonement | Boston Theatre Scene". www.bostontheatrescene.com. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  4. "Mimuna – Israeli Dramatists Website". dramaisrael.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  5. "Sh'chur - Festivals and Awards | Israeli Film Database | Israel Film Center". www.israelfilmcenter.org. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  6. Loshitzky, Yosefa (1996-01). "Authenticity in crisis: Shur and new Israeli forms of ethnicity". Media, Culture & Society. 18 (1): 87–103. doi:10.1177/016344396018001006. ISSN 0163-4437. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. Keren, Michael (2005). "Review of Identity Politics on the Israeli Screen". Israel Studies Forum. 20 (1): 88–91.
  8. Alush-Levron, Merav (2015-03-04). "The politics of ethnic melancholy in Israeli cinema". Social Identities. 21 (2): 169–183. doi:10.1080/13504630.2015.1041015. ISSN 1350-4630.
  9. Orange People, retrieved 2018-11-07
  10. "She's the boss". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Global girl power". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  12. ""הפועלות", שבת 19:30, ערוץ בריזה - וואלה! תרבות". וואלה! תרבות (in עברית). Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  13. Meorav Yerushalmi (TV Series 2003– ), retrieved 2018-11-07
  14. Schalom, meine Liebe, retrieved 2018-11-07
  15. "It takes a village to heal Israel's abused teen girls". Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  16. "דף הבית". www.openu.ac.il (in עברית). Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  17. שטרן, איתי (2018-03-07). "חנה אזולאי הספרי בין הזוכים ב"פרס ישראל המזרחי"". הארץ (in עברית). Retrieved 2018-11-07.

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