Les États généraux du film documentaire 2007 Fragment of a filmmaker's work: Ram Loevy

Fragment of a filmmaker's work: Ram Loevy



In Tel Aviv last year during a meeting with Avi Mograbi, he encouraged us to meet a director he held in high esteem and felt it was important for us to know, someone who has had great influence on the history of Israeli documentary and who accompanied the first steps of Israeli television. He was talking about Ram Loevy.

If we had seen his film Close, Closed, Closure broadcast on France 5 in 2002, we did not know the whole story of his career as engaged cineast, author of documentary as well as of fiction, director of some fifty films overall of which many were made for television. That is how we met Ram Loevy at the bar of the "Cinémathèque", a warm, attentive, discreet man.
Through him, we were able to discover Hirbet Hizaa, the first film to focus on the evacuation of Palestinian villages in 1948. The film only owed its broadcast in 1978 to public pressure and a strike on Israeli television leading to an interruption of transmissions on the only channel at the time. The film’s broadcast caused a wide public debate and opened the first rift in the highly controlled media treatment of the story. This fiction film, whose short length only adds to its impact, recounts the growing awareness of a young soldier caught in the mechanics of the war and who starts to doubt at the moment he participates in the evacuation of a village. The film recalls René Vautier’s Avoir vingt ans dans les Aurès in the way that it immediately stimulated public debate, of course. But also in the way that it necessarily uses fiction to tell a story that is absolutely true but still taboo, holding the documentary at a distance even though the direction of the narrative is extremely close to the Real.

Twelve years earlier, Ram Loevy as producer and co-writer was already confronting the authorities for permission to screen in a cinema his very first film, I Achmad, directed by Avshalom Katz. He adopted the form of propaganda cinema to tell a story to which this form was diametrically opposed. It was 1967, before the war and before the creation of Israeli television. Since then, he has never ceased attacking the contradictions of the society in which he lives and questioning the conflicts that run through it, first among which the neverending confrontation opposing Israel and Palestine.
Two films testify to these two entwined trajectories in Ram Loevy’s cinema: Bread, a 1986 fiction film telling the story of an Israeli family of north African origin confronted with the precariousness of its existence in a neglected town in the south of Israel whereas Close, Closed, Closure recounts the daily life of Gaza’s inhabitants just before the second intifada.

Last year, we were not able to project Hirbet Hizaa as planned. We have decided this year, with Ram Loevy, to screen the film while reconstituting the historical perspective it represents within an important body of work.


Guests : Débat en présence de Ram Loevy avec la participation d’Ariel Schweitzer (critique, Cahiers du cinéma).