▲ Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai, guest of honor at the 2014 Morelia International Film Festival.Photo Media and media


La Jornada newspaper
Saturday May 23, 2020, p. 5

Jerusalem. Israeli film director Amos Gitai, the author of films on extremism and conflict in his country, views the coronavirus pandemic as a war against an invisible enemy that demands a pause to rethink our way of life.

The filmmaker was in New York when the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread from Asia to Europe and America.

I had come to present some of my films at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), explained in an interview the director of Kaddosh (1999), Kippur (2000), Free Zone (2005) or, more recently, A streetcar in Jerusalem, and whose work is largely nourished by the history of Israel and its conflicts.

But New York fell into the pandemic and they closed the MoMa. Amos Gitai and his wife flew to France on a stopover to reach their country. But there were no more flights to Israel, he says from Paris in a video conference interview.

Born in 1950 in Haifa, two years after the creation of the State of Israel, the filmmaker lived through several wars, including the one in Kippur in 1973. He was injured when he was traveling in a helicopter that was hit by a Syrian missile and was about to To die.

From this trauma, a new artistic vocation would be born for someone who was called to be an architect, like his father: documentary and fictional cinema.

We know what war is, in particular, we in the Middle East know emergencies, but not like this, in which the enemy is invisible, the prolific director stresses in a hoarse voice, who has directed actresses such as Jeanne Moreau, Barbara Hendricks and Natalie Portman. So we must be very careful.

Critical distance

Amos Gitai is part of the 200 artists and scientists who signed the petition No to a return to normality, started in early May by the French actress Juliette Binoche and which calls for a thorough review of the objectives, values ​​and economies of our societies and especially of capitalism.

It’s normal to worry about immediate problems, but sometimes, in a period of crisis, it’s good to take advantage of the moment to try to find a little perspective, confesses Gitai, who revolts against the excesses of capitalism and extreme consumption that, he affirms , destroy the planet.

The first thing is to ensure that you stay in good health, but then you have to ask yourself what is perhaps the underlying message of this virus to humanity in a more general way, for example, the destruction of the environment, he believes.

In the “world after”, we must try not to return to the ways of life that destroy the Amazon and green spaces, he continues. You have to keep your spirits and good energy, because we will need it when things start up again.

The filmmaker has tried to stay active during confinement and works on a book, an exercise that imposed silence and immobility favor, he says.

He also reads and, despite the distance, he assiduously follows the news of his country, which ended a long political crisis on Sunday with the inauguration of a union government between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz.

Amos Gitai maintains conflicting relations with the authorities of his country, in particular with the political right.

In September 2018, he criticized the Benjamin Netanyahu government for considering that culture is propaganda. With the Prime Minister remaining in power, he fears for the Israeli open society and its institutions.