Les États généraux du film documentaire 2007 Fragment of a filmmaker's work: David Perlov

Fragment of a filmmaker's work: David Perlov



David Perlov: Passion of the Daily Life

"May 1973, I bought a camera. I started filming myself and for myself. Professional cinema no longer attracted me. I filmed day after day looking for something else. I was looking above all for anonymity. It took me some time to learn how to achieve it."
With these words David Perlov opened his cinematic diary, shot over three decades, first in 16 mm then in video and considered today as the most significant work of the Israeli School of Documentary Film-making.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1930, son of a travelling magician, David Perlov arrived in Paris in 1952 to study painting. He became enamoured with cinema through the discovery of Jean Vigo’s Zéro de conduite. From that time, he started a friendship with Henri Langlois and became his assistant at the Cinémathèque française. In 1957, he made his first short film Tante Chinoise et les Autres made from the satirical drawings of a twelve year old girl and marking his passage from painting to cinema.
David Perlov emigrated to Israel in 1958, living first in a kibbutz then in Tel Aviv. At that time, Israeli cinema was dominated by propaganda documentary, used to transmit the messages of official institutions. Through numerous battles, Perlov quickly became known as a demanding and free-thinking filmmaker, revolutionising the practice of documentary film by the introduction of a subjective and poetic dimension. Influenced by the French New Wave, his film In Jerusalem (1963), a prize-winner at the Venice festival, announced the emergence of a modern cinema in Israel.
In the seventies, Perlov directed two fiction features: The Pill, a burlesque comedy and 42:06, a biography of David Ben-Gurion. Exhausted by his many conflicts with the Israeli Film Administration, he decided to abandon professional film and concentrate on making his Diary. He began then to film his family, his friends, his trips (in particular to France and Brazil, his native country). A eulogy of urban life, of street spectacle, a poetic vision of the universe based on the intimate and the family, the film highlights his daily life of which the filmmaker manages to reveal the profound humanity and existential density.
David Perlov liked to quote the Israeli poetess Dali Rabikovitz: "Faced with reality, the only flag I can raise is the white flag." Wishing to devote his Diary to the observation of his daily life, he saw politics "invade" and come practically to dominate the film. Diary is in this way marked by a strong tension between history written small and large, offering an emotionally overwhelming vision of the dramatic events that shook the State of Israel from the Yom Kippur war on.


Guests : in les Cahiers du cinéma, n° 605, octobre 2005, Paris

Invités : Mira Perlov, Yaël Perlov, et Ariel Schweitzer.