It’s March in Greece. The world famous Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan is attending the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which is showing a retrospective of his many films. Along with Amos Gitai and Avi Mograbi, Sivan is known as a dissident among Israeli filmmakers. He tells DOX that he wants to provoke with his films, to get people to react. Sivan is used to opposition, but for each person who supports him, there are ten who criticise him. Many hate the free-speaking filmmaker from Israel’s upper middle class. He has received a bullet in the mail with the message “next time, it’ll be one of these”. When a director friend of his lost his life making a pro-Palestinian film, he started to fear for his safety and that of his family. But he tolerates accusations and hate-filled comments because, as festival director, Dimitri Eipides, writes in the Thessaloniki festival catalogue: “He dares to show the other side – the Palestinian side – as something less one-dimensional than the word ‘enemy’, to talk about Israel beyond the usual ideological construct of the chosen people or victimhood; to reveal the propaganda machine …”
“When you are in the middle of a battle, you don’t ask yourself if you are tired, or haven’t eaten enough.”
Sivan grew up in Jerusalem with Zionist parents but moved to Paris in his twenties. He has made more than ten controversial documentaries and continues to make his mark through essays and as the editor of the political journal South Cinema Notebooks. His films are principally about the perpetrators – he believes victim films show only the consequences, not the causes.
For his film Shoah (1985), Claude Lanzmann, another Jewish filmmaker, compiled a collection of witness statements on the annihilation of the Jews. Lanzmann chose not to use archive material since this was often derived from propaganda films, but also because such old clips could have a distancing effect. He also rejected the modern, dramatic staging seen in Holocaust (1978) and Schindler’s List (1993), which he described as obscene because to his mind the incomprehensible should not be depicted through the consolation offered by the survivors. Shoah was to be about death itself, with interviews conducted forty years later at the actual crime scenes with those who had lived up close to this mechanism of death. He calls his film a meticulously constructed “fictionalization of reality”. 1)See Sue Vice, Shoah, BFI, London, 2012.
Login to continue...You have now read 4 free articles this month, so log in if you are a subscriber,
or please click here for subscription (3 euro/month) to read all articles.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||See Sue Vice, Shoah, BFI, London, 2012.|
|2, 3.||↑||Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman, ”The Barber Trial: Sivan vs. Finkielkraut”, Cabinet Magazine, no. 26, New York, summer 2007.|