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Film activism in Action: Online Retrospective of Eyal Sivan


Eyal Sivan, Israeli documentarist, theorist and producer based in Paris, ranks among strong creative personalities in whose works film becomes politics and vice versa. Sivan‘s film language cannot be separated from the political themes he has been dealing with on a long-term basis which have become the key motives of his works; the relation between Israel and Palestine and Israel’s relation to its own history.

Already in his early film works from the 1980s, Sivan deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of diverse social groups. In his feature-length debut Aquabat-Jaber, Passing Through, he follows the daily life in a Palestinian refugee camp. Similarly, in his later documentary Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel, he focuses on a group of soldiers of the Israeli army. Whoever becomes the object of his camera represents a means for the filmmaker’s strong criticism of contemporary Israel’s politics, the conservative ways of mediating the Zionist belief as well as the methods of presenting the country’s history. It is the very relation between politics, memory and belief that Sivan openly criticizes in Izkor: Slaves of Memory; the first film due to which the ways of the filmmaker and official Israeli institutions have parted.

Through the concrete stories of individuals struck by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or persons actively entering state and religious politics, Sivan primarily strives for a deep reflection of the presence of evil in the society. In Sivan’s works, this evil may take up various forms; ranging from big totalitarian regimes, as seen in I Love You All, to its concentration in an individual character, a bearer of a dangerous ideology, as portrayed in his most renowned work The Specialist. The film presents a 2-hour cut of more than 350 hours recorded at the Jerusalem trial with SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann.

From February 3 to 16, 2014, DAFilms.com documentary portal presents a selection of 12 films by Eyal Sivan to international audiences for free. Later, the films representing Sivan’s works made throughout 4 decades will become part of the project’s virtual catalogue. If you are interested in how socially significant and politically engaged documentary film can be, do not miss Sivan’s retrospective.

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Films for the event


IZKOR, Slaves of Memory 1990

IZKOR, Slaves of Memory 1990 (Orig.) / 1991 / Israel / 97 min

IZKOR, is a portrait of the Israeli society that has never been shown before, thirty days in the life of a State that lives to the rhythm of its memory. This award-winning film puts forward a passionate and severe analysis of the Hebrew state.



JERUSALEM(S), Borderline Syndrome

JERUSALEM(S), Borderline Syndrome (Orig.) / 1994 / Israel / 65 min

This iconoclastic film, midway between fiction and documentary, explores the "over-sacred" side of Jerusalem. A political gamble for its inhabitants, a myth for its visitors, Jerusalem remains a universal object of desire that borders on fetishism.



AQABAT JABER, Peace with No Return?

AQABAT JABER, Peace with No Return? (Orig.) / 1995 / Palestinian Territories / 61 min

Can peace between Israel and Palestine be possible without the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland which has now become Israel?



AQABAT JABER, Passing Through

AQABAT JABER, Passing Through (Orig.) / 1987 / Palestinian Territories / 86 min

Aqabat-Jaber is one of the sixty Palestinian refugee camps built in the Middle East by the UN at the beginning of the 1950s. Filmed in 1987, a few months before the Intifada, this film tells the story of a disinherited generation brought up in the nostalgia of places they never knew and which no longer exist. The story of a temporary solution that became a permanent way of life.



ITSEMBATSEMBA, Rwanda one Genocide Later

ITSEMBATSEMBA, Rwanda one Genocide Later (Orig.) / 1997 / France / 13 min

The genocide in Rwanda (Itsembatsemba) took place amongst general indifference. On the 6th April 1994, a fury of purification swept the country. Within one hundred days, soldiers and militiamen (Interhamwe) massacred at least 700,000 Tutsis. These images were taken two years after the genocide, in April 1996.




ISRALAND (Orig.) / 1991 / Israel, Palestinian Territories / 58 min

During the Gulf war, 10 km from Tel-Aviv as bombs are dropping on the city, a Luna park called Israland is being built.



ITGABER, He will Overcome

ITGABER, He will Overcome (Orig.) / 1993 / Israel / 170 min

Interviews with Professor Leibovitz, in two parts: on Science and Values and on State and Laws



THE SPECIALIST, Portrait of a Modern Criminal

THE SPECIALIST, Portrait of a Modern Criminal (Orig.) / 1999 / Israel / 128 min

The incredible trial of an appallingly ordinary man. Drawn entirely on the 350 hours of rare footage recorded during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, in 1961, in Jerusalem, this film about obedience and responsibility is the portrait of an expert in problems resolving, a modern criminal. The film is inspired from the controversial book by Hannah Arendt : "Eichmann in Jerusalem, report on the banality of evil".



ROUTE 181, Fragments of a Journay in Palestine-Israel

ROUTE 181, Fragments of a Journay in Palestine-Israel (Orig.) / 2003 / Belgium, France, Germany / 272 min

181, offers an unusual vision of the inhabitants of Palestine-Israel, a common vision of an Israeli and a Palestinian.



JAFFA, the Orange's Clockwork 2009

JAFFA, the Orange's Clockwork 2009 (Orig.) / 2009 / France, Israel / 88 min

Jaffa, the orange’s clockwork narrates the visual history of the famous citrus fruit originated from Palestine and known worldwide for centuries as "Jaffa oranges".



COMMON STATE, Potential Conversation [1]

COMMON STATE, Potential Conversation [1] (Orig.) / 2012 / Israel / 123 min

Whereas the vision or the so-called solution of « two people – two States » in Palestine-Israel is dying a slow death, in the face of apocalyptical visions, an escalation of racism and an ongoing colonization and permanent repression on the part of Israel, Common State, A Potential Conversation, Eyal Sivan's new documentary film, shows a cinematographical encounter between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews...



BURUNDI, Under Terror

BURUNDI, Under Terror (Orig.) / 1996 / France / 13 min

Burundi, 21st October 1993: the democratically elected President N’Dadaye is assassinated by a group of Tutsi officers.





“My work has two strands: the first one deals with direct political images of violence, aggression and protest, mostly in Israeli-Palestinian context. It’s critique of news media, researching the complex, both realistic and surrealistic aspects of these images. The second strand of videos is more abstract and universal, dealing with cognitive, environmental and existential issues,” says the director about his works.

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