February 20, 2019

Syril Zimand, aspiring Israeli filmmaker, missing in Hollywood [UPDATE]

[UPDATE, Jan. 7:] According to Detective L. Saiza of the Los Angeles Police Department's missing-person unit, as of Jan. 7 Henri Zimand has not filed a missing-persons report with the LAPD about his son, Syril Zimand.  This despite the fact that Zimand has asked the LAPD, the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles and family living in Los Angeles to help find his son. 

[Jan. 3] In early November, Syril Zimand, 28 and an aspiring screenwriter, left Israel and came to Los Angeles with the goal of writing and selling his screenplays. He checked into a hostel in Hollywood on Nov. 10 and stayed there until Nov. 24.

Since that time, his whereabouts are unknown.

Henri Zimand, Syril’s father, said in a phone interview Thursday, Jan. 3, from Monaco, that he has been unsuccessfully trying to track down his son, who is not reachable by cell phone. Zimand said he has filed a report with law enforcement agencies as well as the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, with no results.

“I’m a little bit surprised at the whole thing, because normally he would call, normally he would say, ‘Send me some money,’” said Zimand, a Monaco-based philanthropist who earned his fortunes in real estate and startup companies.

“But this time, he did not ask; he didn’t tell me he was moving from the hotel—the only thing I could hope for is he found somebody who is giving him lodging and food and he simply is not calling,” Zimand said. Zimand also said that they had not had any disagreements and he was unaware of anything that would cause his son not to call.

Zimand made available to The Journal emails from the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Department of Justice Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit saying they know nothing of Syril Zimand’s whereabouts.

An official at the Israeli Consulate also had no information. “We tried to locate him, but since the son never initiated contact with us, we didn't have any leads or information,” Danny Gadot, a spokesperson for consular affairs at the Consulate General of Israel Los Angeles said Thursday.

Zimand said he has hired a private detective who has checked homeless shelters and elsewhere, without success.

The last place Syril was seen was at USA Hostels in Hollywood, according to Zimand. Syril stayed at the hostel for 14 days, the maximum amount of days allowed for guests at the hostel. During his stay, he called his father—whom he’d been speaking with two or three times per week since arriving in Los Angeles on Nov. 8—and asked for money to pay for the hotel.

Sometime after Nov. 24, Zimand said, Syril called his father to say he’d received the money, $1,000, and that everything was fine. He did not tell his father that he was no longer staying at the hostel.  That was the last time the two made contact.

Zimand said he learned that Syril checked out of that hostel only when Henri Zimand’s sister visited the hotel during a trip to Los Angeles. She was told by the hostel that Syril was no longer staying there.

According to Henri, Syril has never gone missing prior to this incident.

Born in Monaco, Syril was raised and educated in Israel. He has traveled back-and-forth between Israel and Los Angeles several times over the past few years.

Syril, who lives in Herzliya and served in the Israeli army approximately 10 years ago, has been working toward a career in the film business. Two years ago, he studied briefly at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, his father said.

On this trip, Syril was traveling with two passports, one Israeli and the other from Belgium, He had a six-month visa attached to his Belgium passport, along with $1500.

Zimand said an LAPD detective had suggested that Syril might be using his multiple passports to travel nationally or internationally, however  Zimand said he believes his son is still in Los Angeles.

“His only interest was to sell scripts and write scripts, so that he can only do in Los Angeles,” he said. “That was his main goal.”

In addition to reaching out to law enforcement, Henri Zimand has used Facebook to spread the word about his missing son, who is traveling without a credit card and does not have a bank account in Los Angeles. Zimand said he is also currently working with Interpol to procure phone records for a cell phone Syril purchased in Los Angeles, but which is no longer accepting calls.

Ronit Machlouf, a cousin of Syril, lives in the San Fernando Valley and on Thursday began posting missing-person flyers around Los Angeles. In a phone interview, Machlouf said she spoke to Syril by phone a couple of weeks ago. He told her he was looking for a place to stay and that he would come by for Shabbat dinner as soon as he was settled.

“But I didn’t hear from him. And then when I tried to call him, the phone was disconnected. It sounds like something is wrong… he’s coming from a wealthy family, and they are very generous, and that’s the way Syril is. …I’m afraid that people are taking advantage of him,” Machlouf said.

Machlouf said she has spoken with with a local friend of Syril’s, who told Machlouf that Syril had asked him if he could stay with him but who told Syril that he didn’t have anywhere for him to sleep. He told her he never heard further from Syril.

The family is asking that if anyone has information on Syril’s whereabouts to call the Los Angeles Police Department’s missing-person unit at (213) 996-1800 or (877) 527-3247.

Missing Person