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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