Libyan dictator’s son forks up $100 million to work with Jewish producer

Crazy things happen in Cannes: Saadi Gadhafi, the middle son of the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has agreed to spend $100 million backing Matt Beckerman’s film fund with a slate of 20 films over five years, reports Sharon Waxman at

Beckerman, a 33-year-old former music promoter, is the CEO of Natural Selection, a company he began in 2008 but was all but wiped out by the global economic crisis. It was out of sheer desperation—his own grandfather couldn’t help him—when he hopped a plane to the Middle East looking for funding. There he was introduced to Saadi Gadhafi.

According to, the men got to talking—for three hours. Gadhafi’s dictator-father background didn’t bother Beckerman, who grew up Jewish in a predominantly Irish-Italian neighborhood in New Jersey.

But what would Gadhafi think about working with a Jew?

“On the day they met, [Gadhafi] took Beckerman out to the beach for a private chat and asked him if he [Jewish],” reported Beckerman said yes.

“Great,” Gadhafi said. “The fact that you and [I] will do business together will change perceptions.”

(Read more about how they met and their business partnership at

But even if Beckerman is comfortable working with Gadhafi, there are some in Hollywood who are not. Beckerman told Waxman, “It’s been challenging. Initially when people hear it, they get concerned. But it’s money at a time when there’s very little equity out there.”

The idea that a climate of tricky economics can spawn unlikely relationships—for better or worse—is an area of obvious relevance to Israel.

Last Monday night, I had dinner with Idan Ofer, an Israeli shipping tycoon and one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen. He seemed to think that Israel’s capitalistic impulse may ultimately endanger it. After all, how much can technology and innovation matter to the soul of a country if you’re willing to sell it to the buyer with the most cash?

In an increasingly global economy, a Jewish kid from New Jersey making movies with a Libyan dictator may become par for the course; but if that same Middle Eastern dictator owned a chunk of the Israeli economy, much more is at stake than money.