Uri Zohar and Sima Eliyahu in the 1974 movie “Einayim G’dolot” (Big Eyes).
Uri Zohar and Sima Eliyahu in the 1974 movie 'Einayim G’dolot' (Big Eyes). Photo by Courtesy
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Haim Taragan
Zohar, now a rabbi, in 2007. Photo by Haim Taragan

A retrospective of Uri Zohar's feature films will open at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris next month, marking the first time the revered institution honors an Israeli director in this way. Most of Zohar's films will be screened at the event, which runs from October 11 to 21.

Put together by film scholar Ariel Schweitzer, the retrospective will include lectures and other events connected to Zohar's work as well as screenings of all his major films including "Hole in the Moon," "Three Days and A Child," "Every Bastard A King," "HaTarnegol," "Metzitzim," "Big Eyes," and "Hatzilu Et HaMatzil." Several films involving Zohar will also be screened such as "Etz O Palestine," based on Natan Axelrod's news reports, "Lul," using the film version from 1988, and Boaz Davidson's "Shablul," the 1970 cult film in which Zohar acted and co-wrote the script.

The first part of Raphael Nadjari's "A History of Israeli Cinema," 2009, which deals with Zohar's films and the "new sensitivity" trend in cinema, will also be screened as well as two short films: "Wedding in Jerusalem," (1985 ) by Renen Schorr, Zohar's former assistant, who documented the marriage of Zohar's son and Arik Einstein's daughter, and Gil Weinstein's "Benched Player," a homage to Zohar and especially, "Big Eyes."

On October 12th, Schweitzer will lecture about Zohar's contribution to Israeli cinema, the aesthetics of his films, and their representations of manhood. Zohar was one of the most prominent directors of the "New sensitivity films" trend in Israeli cinema in the 1960's and 1970's, which, according to Schweitzer, combined elements of the Nouvelle Vague with Israeli reality. "Zohar was a true Mediterranean director who knew how to translate the Israeli urban scenery, as well as the strong Israeli light, to a coarse, direct aesthetic. He was one of the most fascinating Israeli auteurs, due to the manner in which he examined manhood and machismo, and relationships between the sexes in a country where the military has such a dominant role. When films such as "Metzitzim" and "Big Eyes," were first released some critics saw them as only 'light beach comedies,' but as the years went by they assumed the value of an existential portrait of one man, or maybe one generation, carrying the heavy load of a crisis of values."

The retrospective is a collaboration between the Cinematheque Francaise and the Jerusalem Cinematheque's Israel Film Archive.