February 24, 2011, Updated September 12, 2012

Jewish American filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen – the team behind Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and No Country for Old Men – have been named as this year’s winners of the international Dan David Prize. They will receive a $1 million award for their contributions to filmmaking.

The Dan David Prize, named after international businessman and philanthropist Dan David, is headquartered at Tel Aviv University. Every year the committee hands out three awards for outstanding achievement in the categories of past, present and future time dimensions.

The Coen brothers were given the honor in the present category “for their ability to tell a simple story in a complex manner.”

In honoring the Coen brothers, the prize committee wrote: “With control over final cut of their films, their creative involvement makes them a creative partnership unique in the history of filmmaking.”

The Coen Brothers are expected to arrive in Israel to attend the May 15 ceremony.

The past category prize was awarded to Professor Marcus Feldman of the Stanford University School of Medicine for his work in the evolutionary sciences. His work explores basic scientific topics and investigates the societal consequences of the conclusions he draws in terms of models of evolution.

The committee praised Feldman’s work, which they said had broad applications in understanding animal and plant evolution: “His work has led to highly focused insights of cultural significance such as the out-of-Africa model of human evolution, as well as cultural preferences in different civilizations.”

Professor Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School Professor Gary Ruvkun will share the future prize for their work in gerontology.

“Cynthia Kenyon is recognized as a pioneer most responsible for first showing that the aging of the C. elegans worm is under genetic control,” the prize committee said. Meanwhile, Ruvkun is being rewarded for “a huge contribution to the future of human health with the discovery of metabolic genes with universal influence on aging.”

Ten percent of the recipients’ prize money is donated on their behalf to doctorate and post-doctorate student grants.

President Shimon Peres and 2010 prize winner Italian President Giorgio Napolitano are expected to attend the award ceremony in May.



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